South Carolina powers past Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. -- Jake Bentley passed for two touchdowns and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard run with 5:50 left to lift South Carolina to a 48-44 comeback win over Mississippi on Saturday.
South Carolina (5-3, 4-3) erased a 44-34 deficit in the fourth quarter to win consecutive games for the first time this season. The Gamecocks covered 47 and 73 yards in fourth-quarter scoring drives, capped by a 3-yard run from A. J. Turner and Bentley's decisive score, respectively.
Bentley finished 22-of-32 passing for 363 yards as the Gamecocks had 510 total yards. The South Carolina defense, after giving up eight scores in 10 possessions, closed with four consecutive scoreless series to preserve the win.
"Jake gave a gutsy performance and was really accurate with the ball," South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. "The resiliency and fight of this football team says a lot about the culture of our program. A lot of guys stepped up to win this game."
Ole Miss (5-4, 1-4) rallied from an early 17-3 deficit for a 27-27 tie at halftime and moved out to a 44-34 fourth-quarter lead. Jordan Ta'amu was 31-of-46 passing for 379 yards as the Rebels had 616 yards of total offense, including 141 rushing yards on 21 carries from Scottie Phillips.
"We just did not make the plays we needed to make," Mississippi coach Matt Luke said. "They did and we didn't, especially in those final series. This is tough because our players left it all on the field."
The first-half shootout opened on a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown by Deebo Samuel as the Gamecocks raced to an early 14-point lead. By halftime, Parker White had field goals of 20 and 23 yards, Ty'Son Williams scored on a 2-yard run and Bryan Edwards pulled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Bentley.
Ole Miss countered with a 24-point outburst in the second period, highlighted by touchdown runs of 1 and 9 yards by Phillips. Luke Logan added field goals of 25 and 26 yards, while Ta'amu scored on a 17-yard run.
The Rebels got second-half touchdown runs from Phillips and Isaiah Woullard on 2 and 1 yards, respectively. Josh Vann had a 5-yard scoring pass from Bentley late in the third quarter before South Carolina rallied in the final 12 minutes.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks got a little breathing room in becoming bowl eligible as home games remain with subdivision Chattanooga and non-Power Five member Akron. The clutch defensive finish, which included sacks by Jordan Kinlaw and T.J. Brunson, was encouraging since ranked opponents No. 11 Florida and No. 2 Clemson remain on the schedule.
Ole Miss: Ta'amu took a physical beating as the game progressed and it showed in the fourth quarter as he completed only three passes for 10 yards. When the Rebels are held in check offensively or at least slowed down, the defense simply can't compensate enough for a win. As usual, the receivers were impressive as Elijah Moore had 129 yards on 11 receptions and A.J. Brown had 115 yards on six catches.
South Carolina finished with 147 yards rushing, but the game's decisive effort was a 69-yard run by Mon Denson to the Ole Miss 4-yard line while trailing 44-41 with seven minutes remaining. Three plays later, Bentley scored the game-winner. Denson led the Gamecocks with 102 yards on 12 carries. The Gamecocks are 18-3 when rushing for more than 100 yards.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks visit No. 11 Florida on Saturday.
Ole Miss: The Rebels begin a two-game road stretch at No. 20 Texas A&M.