Breaking down No.6 South Carolina’s 27-10 victory over North Carolina, one big play at a time.
Score: 0-0, opening drive, 13:41 left in first quarter.
Situation: South Carolina ball, 1st-and-10, from South Carolina 35.
The play: Quarterback Connor Shaw faked a handoff and threw a 65-yard touchdown strike to Shaq Roland.
Why it mattered: UNC entered the season with questions about its defense – and South Carolina needed just three plays to show why. The Gamecocks opened the game in a spread formation. Shaw handed off to Mike Davis for 5- and 12-yard gains. On the third play, Shaw faked to Davis and threw to Roland, who ran by cornerback Tim Scott on a deep post. Shaw’s pass hit him in stride.
Score: South Carolina 17-7, 7:43 left in second quarter.
Situation: South Carolina punting, 4th-and-21 from its 10.
The play: UNC’s T.J. Thorpe fumbled a punt, which South Carolina recovered at UNC’s 49.
Why it mattered: UNC had just scored and then stuffed USC deep in the Gamecocks’ territory, forcing its first three-and-out. Thorpe settled under the punt near midfield but immediately bobbled it. Damiere Byrd recovered to change field position in the Gamecocks’ favor. After both teams punted again, South Carolina took over near midfield and added a 26-yard field goal just before the first half ended to make it 20-7.
Score: South Carolina 20-7, early in third quarter.
Situation: UNC ball, 4th-and-11 from South Carolina 30.
The play: UNC already converted a fourth-and-short on its opening drive of the second half. This time, Bryn Renner hit Mark McNeill on a 13-yard gain just in front of the Tar Heels bench to extend the drive.
Why it mattered: UNC needed points on its opening drive. This completion eventually set up Thomas Moore’s 20-yard field goal, which cut the lead to 20-10. UNC was 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions during its two scoring drives.
Score: South Carolina 20-10, 7:51 left in third quarter.
The situation: South Carolina ball, 1st-and-10 from its 25.
The play: South Carolina, which ran its spread attack on almost every play, opened the second half in an I formation. Davis followed a lead block through the right side, cut sharply toward the sideline and outran everybody for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 27-10.
Why it mattered: UNC had just closed within 20-10, capping the opening drive of the second half with a field goal. The Gamecocks answered on their first play with another big play to again crush any UNC momentum. Chris Wright