Rapid Reaction: Jaycee Horn's breakout game leads South Carolina over Auburn
Jaycee Horn has needed to upgrade his resume in hopes of becoming a high NFL draft pick. Saturday’s performance against No. 15 Auburn took a huge step in that direction with a dominant afternoon that will leave nightmares for Bo Nix.
Horn’s second interception of the game, and Nix’s third, helped swing the momentum toward South Carolina for the second time, setting up another TD for the Gamecocks as they built an eight-point lead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter of South Carolina’s 30-22 upset victory in Columbia.
Auburn had one last drive and reached the South Carolina 12-yard line with 9 seconds to go but the Gamecocks defense held off the Tigers’ attempt to tie the score and force overtime.
Until Saturday, Horn, a junior cornerback, hadn’t recorded an interception in his otherwise solid career. But he continued Nix’s troubles on the road, as the Auburn QB now has 10 interceptions in his career, all away from Auburn.
Bottom line: Nix had three picks and South Carolina turned all of those turnovers into touchdowns.
By halftime, the only reason the game was relatively close, a two-point Auburn lead, was two interceptions by Nix. Auburn had outgained South Carolina 245-117. The Gamecocks made Auburn pay, as on the ensuing drives, they ran 14 plays for 78 yards and two touchdowns after turnovers. As the game went on in the second half, the Auburn offense continued to unravel. Auburn’s first four possessions in the second half were a field goal, punt, interception and punt. South Carolina, meanwhile, went on a 16-0 run.
Nix looked for WR Seth Williams plenty and Williams had an all-day battle against Horn, who had his fourth pass breakup of the day to force an Auburn field goal early in the third quarter.
South Carolina made Auburn pay on the next drive when QB Collin Hill found Shi Smith in the end zone with a lofted pass for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Gamecocks their first lead with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
— i Reporter Liam 🦖 (@Blutman27) October 17, 2020
As South Carolina had the momentum and the lead, Auburn stopped a seemingly promising drive with 2:24 left in the third quarter as a Hill pass was deflected and intercepted inside the Auburn 20-yard line.
Two of the better running backs in the SEC met and Auburn’s Tank Bigsby kept up his hot start. He scored a touchdown in the first half and churned out 41 yards on his first 6 carries, a very healthy 6.8 yards per attempt. He wound up with 111 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Kevin Harris, meanwhile, had a touchdown called back by penalty, but punched it in later for a 3-yard run for South Carolina’s first points. He added another score late in the third quarter and had more than 20 caries.
Nix had an uneven start to the game with a touchdown pass and two interceptions in the first half. The first pick came on 3rd down and 11 when he tried to force it to Ze’Vian Capers on the run. On the second pick was a deflection near midfield. That was his third interception in three games, all on the road, a troubling trend for Auburn.
Gamecocks DB Israel Mukuamu, who has dealt with a groin injury, missed the game. But the other half of the dynamic secondary duo made up for it and then some. Horn picked up his first career interception in the first half when he broke off his man and picked off Nix, who was on the move.
— James (@GamecockSplash) October 17, 2020
After South Carolina juggled its offensive line to start the game, with Dylan Wonnum moving to right tackle, and Jazston Turnetine at left tackle, the Gamecocks struggled with just 21 yards on 15 plays as Auburn built a 9-0 lead.
The Tigers hit several big plays on third down, including a touchdown, and started 4-for-6. That was a stat South Carolina led the SEC in entering the game. The Gamecocks allowed just 19.35 percent in the first three games, which was third in the nation.