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South Carolina claimed its third-consecutive SCRC 7s tournament, sweeping the series with an emphatic 34-0 shutout of Florida in the final in Tupeo, Miss. The Gamecocks will look to continue their momentum in the SCRC qualifier tournament next weekend.
USC opened the tournament with a 24-17 victory over Mississippi State. The Gamecocks continued pool play with a 38-5 win over Georgia. As the seeding played out, South Carolina saw Georgia and Mississippi State in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. With wins over both, the Gamecocks earned a berth in the Cup Finals.
Florida took the unorthodox road to the finals, losing both pool play matches to Alabama and Ole Miss. The Gators took out two-time SCRC runner-up Tennessee in the quarterfinals, however, and then exacted revenge on Alabama to earn a spot in the finals.
Florida had nothing left in the tank, though, falling to South Carolina, 34-0. “We certainly had more gas in the tank than Florida did,” USC 7s coach Steve Darnell told Rugby Today. The Gamecocks pride themselves on their conditioning and believe it is one of the big reasons they have sustained success.
The Gamecocks jumped out of the gate early collecting a couple of tries. USC had a few line breaks early and Chris Harrell outflanked the Florida defense for the second score of the game. Harrell had an outstanding tournament today, netting at least one score in each game.
Florida turned the ball over several times following the early deficit compounding the problem of limited possession. South Carolina capitalized on the errors, adding a few more scores before halftime
“We were very much clicking in that game," Darnell added. "Things were going well. Retaining possession really did starve Florida."
At the start of the second half, USC made a few substitutions and started exploiting some defensive gaps. James Whipper made a big difference, making several line breaks and using his great top speed to seal the game in the second half.
With the victory, South Carolina continues to dominate SCRC play. Darnell attributes much of their success to the team’s cohesive play.
“Having the team work as a unit has been very helpful and when they needed to shine as individuals they were able to do that. They exploited space rather well today.”
With a win next week, South Carolina will claim an automatic qualifier berth to the CRC. After winning all three tune up tournaments, the Gamecocks are heavy favorites to return to Philadelphia next month.