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South Carolina traveled to Gainesville, Fla. Saturday and came away with a 40-22 defeat of Florida. The win pushed the Gamecocks to 2-0 in Southeastern play, and it drops the Gators to 2-2.
Carolina took first possession on the first kickoff, though mismanaged the play, giving Florida excellent field position. After some unsuccessful forward play, the Gators got it out quick to the backs, though the Gamecocks put up a solid defense and prevented multiple attempts at goal.
With a lucky break, Carolina was able to push Florida into touch and win the lineout, setting them up for a successful pod play off of a maul, where senior hooker Drew Busbee touched down the first try of the match, successfully converted by junior scrumhalf Brian Keown, to give the Gamecocks an early 7-0 lead.
The Gamecocks had little time to celebrate, as Florida, took advantage of another mismanaged kick return by the Gamecocks and quickly pushed one in to bring the score to 7-5. South Carolina responded with freshman center Christian Harrell stealing a Florida pass and running it back 40 meters for the try, giving Carolina a 12-5 lead.
Not allowing the Gamecocks to pull away, Florida responded with a try from a chipped ball over the Carolina backline. Another try off of some great lines through the Carolina backline gave Florida its first lead of the day at 17-12.
Carolina was able to retake the lead and end the half up 19-17 on a try made by junior wing Tim Hamill off of a perfect box kick by Keown. Florida started off the second half with a vengeance and scored in the corner to retake the lead at 22-19. The Gators had another strong run by a prop to set themselves up for a penalty kick within South Carolina’s 22-meter-line, though they missed and the score remained 22-19.
Carolina answered with a try from senior lock Zak Gorman, followed by one up the middle by senior center Michael Rudzinsky, to give Carolina a comfortable lead at 33-22. Harrell would break through Florida’s line one last time to give South Carolina the 40-22 victory. Man-of-the-match honors were awarded to junior No. 8 Mike Mahon from Bronx, NY and freshman center Chris Harrell from Enola, Pa.
“After defeating Florida by a try each of the last two years, we knew this was going to be a physical match,” said USC head coach Mark Morris. “Like Georgia, this too was a game of two halves, with several mental and attack errors that cost us valuable territory and put us in difficult situations within our own half.
“Fortunately, halftime gave us an opportunity to regroup, adjust, and change the pace of the game, setting up our backline for excellent scoring opportunities. I’m pleased with the results and the determination of our players, though more so I’m pleased at how much we’ve improved since the preseason. We know what we need to work on and we look forward to hosting Alabama next week.”
The Gamecocks return to action Saturday against Alabama at Greene Street Field in Columbia, SC.