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South Carolina Slashes The Pork

Defense drives upset victory over Arkansas …

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The University of South Carolina football team bounced back from its choke artistry a week ago on the road against Texas A&M with an emphatic 48-22 Southeastern Conference (SEC) win over the favored Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday.

South Carolina (4-2, 2-2 SEC) put up its highest point total in more than three years in upsetting Arkansas at home – relying on a ball-hawking defense that actually found its way into the end zone more often than the Razorbacks’ error-prone offense.

Or for that matter its own offense …

The Gamecock “D” – which has struggled pretty much from the day Jadeveon Clowney turned professional four years ago – turned in a dominating performance against the overmatched Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2 SEC), scoring touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter and adding another score in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t an especially huge crowd on hand at Williams-Brice Stadium to take in the defensive-minded “W.”  The announced attendance at Saturday’s game was 79,416, but that estimate seemed charitable given the broad swaths of empty seats in all three upper decks.

Those who did make it into the stands (ahem) were treated to an explosion of scoring … just not in the way they might have expected.

Fifth-year senior linebacker Skai Moore got things started in the third when he picked off a pass from scrambling Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen and raced 34 yards down the sideline for a #PickSix touchdown.

(Click to view)

(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Moore’s interception – the 13th of his stellar collegiate career – put South Carolina ahead 27-10 with 8:33 remaining in the third quarter.

Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson‘s unit was just getting warmed up, too.

On the Razorbacks next drive, senior defensive end Dante Sawyer swiped Allen’s arm as he was preparing to throw – forcing the football onto the turf.  Sophomore linebacker T.J. Brunson scooped it up sprinted 73 yards for a #ScoopNScore highlight reel touchdown.

Advantage Gamecocks: 34-10 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

(Click to view)

(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Finally, in the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Keisean Nixon stepped in front of a pass from backup quarterback Cole Kelley and waltzed 45 yards untouched for South Carolina’s third defensive score.

Actually, the Gamecock defense scored four times – but a third quarter touchdown by junior defensive back Steven Montac was taken off the board because officials claimed Razorbacks’ running back Chase Hayden‘s knee was on the ground prior to fumbling the football.

South Carolina’s defensive-mindedness wasn’t restricted to end zone heroics, either.

Immediately after forcing its first two turnovers-for-touchdowns, the Gamecock “D” forced a three-and-out that gave the football back to sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley and the South Carolina offense.

Bentley proceed to drive the Gamecocks 60 yards in 11 plays – capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Ty’Son Williams.  He finished the game completing 16 of 31 passes for 199 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions – and moved to 8-5 since inheriting the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback job midway through the 2016 season.

Here are the complete game stats …

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(Via: University of South Carolina)

Next up for South Carolina?  A trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to take on unranked Tennessee.  The Volunteers (3-2, 0-2 SEC) were off this weekend – but not out of action.  At a team practice on Thursday, freshman offensive lineman Trey Smith and sophomore defensive end Darrell Taylor got into a huge fight – with Taylor allegedly kicking at Smith and punching him in the face.

Taylor is already slated to miss the first half of next week’s game after being ejected during Tennessee’s 41-0 loss to Georgia last week.

Tennessee holds an all-time 25-7-2 series advantage over South Carolina, and has won three in a row against the Gamecocks.  Saturday’s game at Neyland Stadium is scheduled to kickoff at 12:00 p.m. EDT with the SEC Network providing national coverage.

(Click to view)

(Via Travis Bell Photography)

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Banner via Travis Bell Photography