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November 23, 2013

Day at the beach: USC crushes Coastal



Now the waiting begins for South Carolina on two fronts.

Taking a cue from Bachman Turner Overdrive, South Carolina took care of business on Saturday, easily disposing of Division I-AA foe Coastal Carolina, 70-10, in front of a sellout crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium as eight different players scored touchdowns for the Gamecocks.

Breaking the game open with four touchdowns within a span of 8:57 in the first quarter, USC cruised to its 17th straight home victory, extending the school record heading into perhaps the two biggest weeks of Steve Spurrier's tenure as head coach in Columbia.

USC led, 42-7, over the Chanticleers at halftime, allowing both coaches to empty their benches and put their backups on the field for the entire second half.

"We had Coastal Carolina outmanned and outsized," Spurrier said. "I'm really proud of our guys. They played well. I didn't know it was end up like this. I didn't know we were going to end up with 42 (points) at the half. We scored every time and messed up once. Our defense played very well, so we kept getting the ball back."

USC scored touchdowns on 10 of its 12 meaningful possessions, including the first six drives of the game, and played turnover-free football for the third straight game. Coastal, which committed three turnovers, was held to a late second quarter touchdown and a late fourth quarter field goal.

The Chanticleers came into the game averaging 45.5 points and 512.5 yards per game, but were held to 10 points and 294 total yards, 57.4 percent of their average per game.

Coastal Carolina heads back to Conway and begins preparations for the Division I-AA playoffs starting next weekend. The Chanticleers earned the automatic bid from the Big South conference when Liberty beat Charleston Southern earlier today.

"They certainly played a great game today," Coastal head coach Joe Moglia said. "I want to wish them luck next week against Clemson and then with what happens to them the rest of the season. We all understand what we needed to do to have a shot in the fourth quarter, but we were not able to get that done."
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Connor Shaw (8-for-11, 115 yards, one TD) became the winningest quarterback in school history with his 25th win as the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, snapping a tie with Todd Ellis.

Dylan Thompson was likewise 8-of-11 for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Brendan Nosovitch (2-for-2), Austin Hails (1-for-2) and Perry Orth (1-for-1) saw action as well beginning midway through the third quarter.

"Connor played well early when we got a comfortable lead and then Dylan came in and hit some good ones," Spurrier said. "But the entire team played well."

Spurrier improved to 48-0 against teams from outside the BCS automatic qualifying conferences and registered his 75th victory as USC coach.

USC amassed 639 yards of total offense en route to scoring the most points of the Spurrier Era. The previous high had been 69 points against Troy in 2010.

USC, which improved to 9-2 overall, must now wait a week to see if it will play in the SEC championship game in Atlanta after Missouri defeated Ole Miss 24-10 in Oxford, Miss.

The Tigers' road win means the East Division crown will be decided by the outcome of next week's Texas A&M-Missouri matchup in Columbia, Mo.

"We're still alive for this year, so we'll see what happens down the road," Spurrier said. "It's neat to get nine wins. We've averaged 10 wins (over the past four years) and hopefully we can add a few more as we go through the rest of the season."

First things first, though. USC hosts rival Clemson in the Palmetto Bowl next Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, looking to extend a four-game winning streak against the Tigers into 2014.

Pharoh Cooper (81 yards rushing on two carries) and Brandon Wilds (62 yards on seven carries), making his first appearance since the UCF game, scored two touchdowns apiece. True freshman Jamari Smith led USC in rushing with 103 yards on 10 carries, becoming the fifth different player on the roster with a 100-yard rushing game in his career.

Smith, who converted back to running back midway through the season, earned a game ball for his performance.

"He's a good back and good player," Spurrier said. "You need a game like this. Usually they come early in the season. Big SEC schools have a game like this. This is where you run up the score. But we very seldom have a game like this. Troy (in 2010) is the last time we were able to empty the bench and get everybody in and let everybody catch a pass and run the ball.

"For those guys to get to run the ball or catch a pass in Williams-Brice Stadium is fun and rewarding for them. It's neat we could do that for them."

The statistics reflected the one-sided nature of the game - 11 different Gamecocks carried the ball (352 rushing) and 11 different receivers caught at least one pass (287 passing yards). Tyler Hull had to punt only one time.

Twelve defensive players had at least two tackles for USC led by linebacker T.J. Holloman with seven.

"We hoped to be in a position to play a lot of players, and we were in that position," USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. "We told them all that we expect them to go out there and perform. That's the difference between us now and in the past. We've had to play so many young guys early, when we do play second- and third-team guys they have experience."

Starting running back Mike Davis did not play as he nursed 'assorted' injuries, joining Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles on the sidelines. Since USC did not suffer any major injuries against Coastal, the Gamecocks should be mostly healthy for Clemson week.

"Like I told the team, we're very healthy," Spurrier said. "Nobody got hurt today. Kelcy Quarles and Jadeveon Clowney should be back next week. Mike could have played today had we needed him, so he should be full go."

Five USC quarterbacks combined to complete 20-of-27 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

Ahead comfortably 42-7 at halftime, USC scored three touchdowns in the third quarter on touchdown runs by Thompson, Cooper and Shon Carson, giving the Gamecocks a 63-7 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

The game started promisingly for Coastal Carolina as they completed a pass to Matt Hazel on the contest's first play for a 25-yard pass completion, but the USC defense stiffened and forced a punt without allowing another first down.

After connecting with Bruce Ellington for 16 yards on USC's first offensive snap, Shaw scrambled for a first down on fourth-and-2 from the SC 48. Moments after another third down conversion, Shaw rolled right and fired a bullet to Shaq Roland, who caught the pass near the sideline about a step behind the CCU defender and dove into the end zone for his fourth TD catch of the season.

The TD throw, which came with 9:40 left in the first quarter, was the 52nd of Shaw's career, moving him to within 10 of Steve Taneyhill's school mark of 62.

Shaw continued to show off his healthy wheels on USC's next possession as he scrambled for 15 yards to the CC 24. Two plays earlier, Cooper ran for 10 yards on a keeper out of the Wildcat for a key third down conversion.

Coastal's third possession ended in disaster for the Chanticleers when a fumble was scooped up by Sharrod Golightly and returned to the CCU 9. However, Golightly was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty, pushing the ball back to the 24.

Undeterred, USC quickly drove to the one-yard line when Shaw plunged over for his 15th career rushing touchdown to push the lead to 21-0 with 1:41 left in the first quarter.

When the USC defense stopped the Chanticleers for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the CCU 35, Thompson entered the game and quickly hit Nick Jones on a post route in the end zone for his third touchdown pass of the season.

Two of those TD passes came on his first snap after entering the game.

USC outgained CCU, 215-71 in the first quarter as Shaw was 8-11 passing for 115 yards. The senior led USC in rushing with 39 yards on five carries.

Coastal Carolina was blanked in the first quarter for the first time this season.

Thompson tossed a 18-yard touchdown to a diving Cooper in the left corner of the end zone less than four minutes into the second quarter to make the score 35-0.

Brandon Wilds scored on a one-yard run 3:28 later.

Coastal QB Alex Ross avoided the blitz with a nifty, Johnny Manziel-like move on fourth-and-goal and flipped a one-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Lorenzo Taliferro in the middle of the end zone for the Chanticleers' first points of the game.

SCORING SUMMARY:
1Q - USC, Roland 35-yard pass from Shaw (Xpt good), 9:40 (7-0)
1Q - USC, Smith 3-yard run (Xpt good), 4:40 (14-0)
1Q - USC, Shaw 1-yard run (Xpt good), 1:41 (21-0)
1Q - USC, Jones 34-yard pass from Thompson (Xpt good), 00:43 (28-0)
2Q - USC, Cooper 18-yard pass from Thompson (Xpt good), 11:21 (35-0)
2Q - USC, Wilds 1-yard run, 7:53 (Xpt good), 7:53 (42-0)
2Q - CCU, Taliaferro 1-yard pass from Ross (Xpt good), 3:23 (42-7)
3Q - USC, Thompson 9-yard run (Xpt good), 10:25 (49-7)
3Q - USC, Cooper 71-yard run (Xpt good), 7:02 (56-7)
3Q - USC, Carson 1-yard run (Xpt good), 2:28 (63-7)
4Q - USC, Wilds 4-yard run (Xpt good), 9:48 (70-7)

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