South Carolina holds on for a tough win over Auburn
COLUMBIA, S.C. - ZaQuandre White was South Carolina's leading rusher with 99 yards and top receiver with 69 yards as the Gamecocks became bowl eligible the traditional way for the first time in three seasons with a 21-17 win over Auburn on Saturday night.
For the second week in a row, the Tigers dominated early and jumped out to a big lead - this time 14-0 - but saw it evaporate as their defense suddenly lost its edge.
White had just three yards rushing at that point. But the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) scored touchdowns on their next two drives with White running for 37 yards and popping uncovered out of the backfield for a 28-yard TD on a 4th-and-3 that turned the momentum of the game around.
South Carolina's third starting quarterback of the season Jason Brown went 10-of-15 passing for 157 yards and three touchdowns, overcoming a bad throw that was easily picked off in the end zone in the first quarter.
Auburn (6-5, 3-4) lost its third game in a row even though Tank Bigsby ran for a season best 164 yards on 22 carries.
LSU transfer T.J. Finley made his first start for his new team, going 17-for-32 passing for 188 yards after Bo Nix was lost for the season with a broken ankle.
Auburn appeared to have one last chance, but a review of several minutes determined a South Carolina punt barley brushed Jaylon Simpson's leg with 2:11 to go and the Gamecocks ran the clock out.
Auburn saw a 28-3 lead disappea r last week against Mississippi State.
South Carolina made a bowl last season with a 2-8 record, but it was canceled because of COVID-19.
Auburn: It was a game of missed opportunities for Auburn. South Carolina's second touchdown came on a short field after Finley couldn't complete a long pass up the middle on 4th-and-1. Late in the third quarter, a Finley pass converted a 4th-and-16, but new kicker Ben Patton missed a 25-yard field goal. Patton took over for Anders Carlson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week on an onside kick.
South Carolina: Making it to a bowl is a good accomplishment for new Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer, who took over a team that had lost 13 of its past 16 games before Beamer took over. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers in back-to-back years after going 0-8 against Auburn since joining the SEC in 1992.
Auburn: The Tigers host Alabama next Saturday for the Iron Bowl. Auburn has won the last two in the rivalry at home - two of the five losses the Crimson Tide have suffered since 2017.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host rival Clemson, which has a six-game winning streak in the in-state series. The COVID-19 pandemic meant the teams didn't play in 2020 for the first time in 112 years.