USC falls to The Citadel, 23-22

2015celebrationbegingbyTBell

by: Willie T. Smith, III greenvillenews.com
November 21, 2015

OLUMBIA – After what has happened this season, many may have thought things couldn’t get any worse for South Carolina. Saturday afternoon, they did. A 56-yard touchdown run by The Citadel back Tyler Renew, followed by a strong defensive stand, earned the Bulldogs 23-22 victory in Williams-Brice Stadium. In a season of disappointing performances, this loss was by far the worse. I certainly am disappointed with the effort all the way around, from penalties to the offense and the defense throughout the entire game,” said USC Interim Head Coach Shawn Elliott. “It is my responsibility to have our football team ready to play.

“(The Citadel) was not just coming to play, they were coming to win.” South Carolina fell to 3-8. With top-ranked Clemson the only game remaining on the schedule, the team was left with little to hold onto in a season that can only be termed a disaster. It also left the question if the Gamecocks have any fight left.

The Citadel (8-3), the Southern Conference co-champions under coach Mike Houston, bewildered the Gamecocks with its powerful triple-option running game. “I think this is a testament to what kind of kids I have the opportunity to coach,” said Houston. “They’ve been phenomenal all year…There’s no quit in that team. They are a very tough, hard-nosed physical football team that I would take against anybody.” Before Carolina knew what hit it, the Gamecocks found themselves down 14-3 before the first quarter ended. The Bulldogs rushed for 134 yards during that span, as the USC defense appeared clueless as to how to stop it. South Carolina appeared to figure things out in the second period, giving the inconsistent offense time to figure things out. USC managed to move the ball, but was unable to penetrate the end zone. Despite out-gaining the Bulldogs 230-193 in the first two quarters, USC went into the locker room trailing 14-9 as it had only three Elliott Fry field goals to its ledger.

It took everything the Gamecocks had to try to defeat The Citadel, however, which probably isn’t what they wanted heading into a game against their rival Clemson. A 48-yard Eric Goins field goal, the ninth longest in team history and the longest against a FBS opponent, gave The Citadel a 17-16 lead with a little over 10 minute remaining in the fourth quarter. South Carolina countered when quarterback Perry Orth hit Pharoh Cooper for a 41-yard score. Orth had his best statistical game as a Gamecock, completing 28 of 43 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown. Cooper was equally impressive, catching 11 passes for 191 yards and a score.

The Bulldogs didn’t flinch after USC took the lead, however, as Renew scampered 56 yards for his second touchdown of the game. That has to be a highlight for the former Ben Lippen performer who used to sell peanuts in the stadium. He finished with 174 yards on 23 carries.
“To come in here, in a stadium where he sold peanuts when he was in high school watching the Gamecocks play, and to run for 174 yards and two touchdowns and beat them, what a special day for him,” said Houston.

Following Renew’s final score it appeared Carolina had picked up the miraculous potential winning score. Orth completed what appeared to be a 95-yard touchdown pass to Cooper with 42 seconds remaining. USC was called for an illegal procedure penalty, however, that nullified it. “I saw the throw,” said Elliott. “I saw the catch. I saw the run for touchdown. I didn’t even know they had thrown a flag, to tell you the truth, until someone grabbed my shoulder.”

They know they have shocked the NCAA/SEC world!

They know they have shocked the NCAA/SEC world!

Despite the disappointing loss, Elliott and his coaching staff has to find a way to get his team out of the doldrums and ready to play a Clemson team that enters this year’s rivalry game undefeated.“It was a total disappointment. It was my responsibility to have our team ready to play,” said Elliott. “I just spoke with our football team really briefly after that game and there were a lot of disappointed faces out there.
“It was a tough day. It was a tough day on all of us, and it will be a tough night.”

USC fans were in shock.

USC fans were in shock.

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