Redemption At The Swamp For The Gamecocks


This season has been filled with disappointment for South Carolina, whether losing three games they were leading in the fourth or their struggling defense or losing more than they’d won, but a come from behind overtime 23-20 win today meant redemption at the swamp for the Gamecocks.  Redemption after losing 4 straight SEC games they felt like they could win.  Redemption for a defense which has allowed staggering yards and ranks near the bottom in many or most major categories.  Redemption for a special teams group which was blamed for almost losing to Vanderbilt earlier this season came up big in the final two minutes not once, but twice.  Redemption for Dylan Thompson, who despite having a record setting season at quarterback, has struggled under pressure and frustrated fans with his mistakes, ends up leading the team with a gutsy performance at the end of the game and in overtime.  Redemption for the Gamecocks entire team, who have lost 4 games in which they were leading or tied in the fourth quarter, came together as a group to stay in the game and fight back at the end to ultimately win in overtime in a very high pressure environment.  Yes, there was a lot of redemption to go around in today’s win, and for good reason.

Although the win today only moves the Gamecocks to 5-5 on the season, you could tell how big this win was to the players, feeling like they had something to prove, and that they could fight back to win a game after no one else really gave them a chance to do so.  Not only were the Gamecocks picked to lose by oddsmakers, the Gators were up by 7 with barely 3 minutes left and were about to kick a field goal to go up by 10 and pretty much seal the win.  That’s when things changed.

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The Gamecocks started off the game incredibly strong, getting out to a 10-0 lead on two consecutive long drives in the first quarter.  At the end of one, South Carolina had almost 150 yards in offense against a top ten defense in the nation, with 7 first downs and 22 plays.  It looked like they were going to run away with the game.  But Florida responded with some adjustments, and by halftime it was tied at 10.

In the third quarter and most of the fourth, the two teams struggled to do a lot offensively, but the Gators did put another touchdown on the board to go up 17-10.  It stayed that way till 3:30 left in the game.  The Gators had the ball in Gamecock territory, and lined up to kick fairly short field goal that would have put them up by 10 points.  Considering the Gamecocks had barely moved the ball since the first two drives of the game, it seemed like this could be the end.  Then it happened – redemption began.  Gerald Dixon Jr got his hand on the kick and block it, which gave the Gamecocks very good field position.  They tried to move the ball, but on fourth down under a lot of pressure, Dylan Thompson tried to make a huge play, but just couldn’t.  The ball went back to the Gators and again with a 7 point lead and just over two minutes left, it seemed like the game, and somewhat the season was over.  Then it happened – redemption continued.

The much-maligned Gamecocks defense, ranked last in the SEC, held the Gators on three straight plays to force a punt.  It would still be a tall order to move the ball down the field with under a minute to go.  Then Carlton Heard went untouched through the middle and blocked the punt.  A blocked field goal and punt within a span of only two minutes gave the Gamecocks the ball back in good field position.  Dylan Thompson then threw a perfect swing pass out in front of Mike Davis who then went 30 yards down inside the Florida 5 yard line.  A few plays later Thompson pitched the ball to Davis who fumbled but recovered in the endzone for a touchdown.  Thompson drew the defense in so well that he was hammered after the pitch and went down hard.  The Gamecocks, who probably would have gone for two, had to settle for a tie with their starting quarterback shaken up.  But a tie meant overtime, something that didn’t go well a week ago.

In overtime, the defense came up big again, and were able to hold the Gators to a field goal.  With memories of last week still strong in everyone’s memory, Spurrier stuck with the run in overtime, and the Gamecocks moved the ball play after play.  Then on 1st and goal with David Williams in the backfield, Thomspon faked an inside handoff to Williams, pulled the ball back, then took off towards the left corner and scored the game-winning touchdown, looking back to the South Carolina bench as he ran in untouched.  Gamecocks win.

Redemption.  You could feel it.  As Dylan Thompson looked back for a second, then threw the ball deep into the stands in celebration.  Enjoy the victory Gamecocks.  You deserve it.  Most importantly, you earned it.