Bentley’s 3 TDs lead Gamecocks to 31-10 win over Wofford
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore believes the Gamecocks have one mission in the week leading up to rival Clemson — find that edge.
Moore, the fifth-year senior, had a record-tying interception that turned things in the Gamecocks favor and stuffed out another Wofford drive in the third quarter as South Carolina reached eight wins for the first time in four years with a 31-10 victory Saturday.
Moore was a freshman in 2013, the last time the Gamecocks won that many — and last time they defeated state rival Clemson, their next opponent.
“That’s the motto I’m going to be preaching throughout the week,” Moore said. “Just have an edge about us and come out there and leave it all out on the field.”
South Carolina (8-3) certainly did that against Wofford, an FCS opponent who had not beaten the Gamecocks since 1917. After falling behind 3-0 and seeing Wofford stop them short on fourth down, quarterback Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks got going.
Bentley ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third to end any threat of another stunner, like when Citadel, Wofford’s SoCon rival, beat them 23-22 two years ago.
Bentley finished off a 50-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run. Bentley hit Bryan Edwards with a pretty, 23-yard scoring pass on the next series and the Gamecocks were on their way to their 17th straight victory over Wofford (9-2).
South Carolina had not won eight games in a season since 2013, the last of three consecutive 11-2 marks under former coach Steve Spurrier. To get even more, the Gamecocks will need to end Clemson’s three-game win streak in the rivalry. Expect South Carolina to be big underdogs to the defending national champions who won this game 56-7 a year ago and are poised for another playoff run this season.
“It’s a big deal for a lot of people,” said tailback A.J. Turner, who finished the Gamecocks scoring with a 2-yard TD run in the final quarter.
Bentley, the sophomore quarterback, leads South Carolina with six rushing touchdowns, all coming in the past four games. Bentley threw for 194 yards on 22 of 28 passing with no interceptions.
South Carolina’s defense did its part, too. The Gamecocks held Wofford, which came in averaging 260 yards rushing, to 155 yards on the ground. Moore’s pick was the 14th of his career, matching Bo Davies mark set 46 years ago.
Wofford coach Mike Ayers, who’s won 206 games in 30 years with the Terriers, said early mistakes cost his team against Power Five opponents.
“You give them too many opportunities, especially when they’re a big physical team, you’re going to run the risk of getting worn out,” Ayers said.
Wofford: The Terriers have their complex, option attack well-honed and ready to take on all FCS opponents when the NCAA playoffs begin next week. South Carolina’s speed on defense and athleticism proved too much to overcome.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks threw their fans a scare early on after Wofford took a 3-0 lead and stopped South Carolina on fourth down. But the Gamecocks SEC talent gradually took control of the contest.
South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore’s second quarter interception was the 14th of his career, tying the school’s career record that Bo Davies has held since he got that many from 1969 to 1971. Moore is a senior who returned to the Gamecocks this season after missing last year because of neck fusion surgery. Muschamp joked they were not going to alter the sign honoring Davies at Williams-Brice Stadium unless Moore broke the mark. “I’ll try and get one more,” Moore said.
Both South Carolina and Wofford got good news during the game. The Gamecocks found out that, with Kentucky’s loss to Georgia, they held second alone in the SEC Eastern Division. The Terriers discovered, that with Furman’s loss to Samford, they don’t share the Southern Conference title. Wofford coach Mike Ayers is hopeful his team will receive a top-eight seed — and bye week — in the FCS playoff pairings announced Sunday.
Wofford waits to see if it receives a bye to the FCS playoffs, meaning it could have next week off before starting postseason play.
South Carolina closes its regular season against state rival Clemson at home next Saturday night.