Rapid Reaction: Gamecocks bowl eligible after beating Auburn
South Carolina’s performance on Saturday was a bit of a microcosm of the season.
For a while, it did not look good. But the Gamecocks rallied for an upset victory and became bowl eligible in the process.
The Gamecocks (6-5 overall, 3-5 SEC), came back from a 14-0 deficit against Auburn to defeat the Tigers 21-17 on Saturday in Columbia.
Jason Brown threw for 3 touchdowns and running back ZaQuandre White was effective both as a runner (99 yards on 16 carries) and as a receiver (69 yards on 3 catches) for the Gamecocks.
There was a bit of controversy at the end. South Carolina punted with 2:11 left and Auburn downed it deep in Tigers territory. But after video review, officials ruled that the punt glanced off of Auburn’s Jaylin Simpson and gave the ball to the Gamecocks. South Carolina ran down the clock to seal the win.
White’s spectacular, zig-zagging 40-yard catch and run in the third quarter and a personal foul penalty on Auburn helped set up Brown’s 7-yard TD pass to Josh Vann to put the Gamecocks ahead for the first time, 21-17, with 4:57 left.
TJ Finley, taking over at quarterback for Auburn after Bo Nix’s season-ending broken ankle, hit Shedrick Jackson on 4th and 16 for 19 yards to get the Tigers to the South Carolina 17-yard line late in the third quarter. But Ben Patton missed a 25-yard field goal wide right from the right hashmark early in the fourth quarter and South Carolina maintained a 21-17 lead. Patton was kicking because Anders Carlson suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Patton hit a 37-yard field goal, the first career college attempt for the left-footer, to put the Tigers ahead 17-14 with 8:40 left in the third quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Auburn drove into South Carolina territory but, on 4th and 3 from their own 35-yard line, the Tigers were denied when Finley’s pass to Demetris Robertson was incomplete.
That set up South Carolina’s tying touchdown with 24 seconds left in the first half. On a play action pass, Brown hit 300-pound fullback Trai Jones for a 3-yard score.
South Carolina struck early in the second quarter, converting on 4th and 3 in a big way. White caught a swing pass from Brown and scooted down the left sideline for a 28-yard TD to bring the Gamecocks within 14-7.
Auburn led 14-0 after one quarter. Finley passed to Robertson for a 10-yard score for the first Tigers touchdown. Then after safety Donovan Kaufman intercepted Brown and returned it to the Auburn 39-yard line, the Tigers drove 61 yards on 7 plays, capped by Tank Bigsby’s 7-yard TD run for a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers (6-5, 3-4) have lost 3 in a row and now get ready for their showdown against Alabama at home next week in the Iron Bowl.
The Gamecocks face Clemson at home in their finale.