Rapid Reaction: Ryan Hilinski era signals new optimism as Gamecocks roll over Charleston Southern
This week was as pretty as last week was ugly.
In an opening quarter fit for heartwarming family television programming, the South Carolina pregame began with injured QB Jake Bentley greeting teammates while wearing a walking boot. Then freshman backup QB Ryan Hilinksi, the newly named starter, was perfect, and third-string popular teammate Dakereon Joyner added two impressive rushing plays.
When Hilinski was introduced on the video board, he received the loudest cheers from the Williams-Brice Stadium faithful. Then, as he stepped on the field, they chanted, “Let’s go Ryan. Let’s go Ryan,” and Hilinski called for more noise.
His impressive debut included a 12-for-12 passing start for 103 yards before his first incompletion. But on that same drive, he connected with WR Bryan Edwards for a 10-yard TD early in the second quarter, the first passing touchdown of his career. The one mistake came in the third quarter when Hilinski threw an interception on a play where he was rushed in the pocket.
Hilinski, who exited near the end of the third quarter, finished 24-for-30 passing for 282 yards, with 2 TDs and an interception.
The Gamecocks rolled in a 72-10 win over Charleston Southern.
It’s the highest scoring total by the Gamecocks under Will Muschamp, and they did it by 11:00 left in the third quarter. That came at the same time South Carolina pulled its defensive starters. It’s the most for the program since it beat Coastal Carolina 70-10 in 2013.
A Kevin Harris TD late in the game set a school record as the Gamecocks reached 700 yards of total offense. They did it with 9:49 left in the game.
Almost every facet of this game was an improvement from last week’s disappointing loss to North Carolina in which Bentley suffered a serious foot injury late in the loss.
The halftime score of South Carolina 44, Charleston Southern 3 was a school record for points in the first half. Hilinski was 22-for-27 for 259 yards and two touchdowns by halftime in his first career start. Edwards had 112 receiving yards, and RB Rico Dowdle had two touchdowns.
Hilinski’s first pass was an easy one on the outside to Edwards. Then he found Dowdle. The one blemish in the entire first quarter was a completion to Nick Muse, who was just cleared to participate by the NCAA, only for Muse to fumble at the Charleston Southern 40-yard-line following a first down conversion.
Hilinksi went 4-for-4 for 35 yards on the opening scoring drive. Hilinski’s first touchdown was a 4-yard keeper that made it 14-0 South Carolina with 5:58 remaining in first half. He was 9-of-9 passing by that point for 82 yards after three drives, including the drive with the Muse fumble.
When Joyner entered at quarterback with 1:25 in first quarter, he wasted no time making a 41-yard run, and later scored on a running TD himself. The defense largely played well early, but CB Israel Mukuamu was called for interference on fourth and long, which kept a Charleston Southern drive alive, and led to a field goal with 2:47 in first quarter.
— James (@GamecockSplash) September 7, 2019
Hilinksi also showed off his arm with a 60-yard touchdown to Edwards.
RYAN HILINSKI WITH THE 60 😤 pic.twitter.com/dcfsRbAyoP
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 7, 2019
The defense took part in a new tradition: Take a group photo on the sidelines after turnovers this year.
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 7, 2019
Another blemish was LB Sherrod Greene was flagged for targeting, and ejected with 5:24 left in the first half. He expects to be available for the Alabama game next week.