South Carolina upsets Auburn
South Carolina got a huge game from Jaycee Horn and overcame an early deficit to upset #15 Auburn 30-22.
South Carolina quickly fell behind 9-0. The lone highlight - a 78-yard touchdown run by Kevin Harris - was called back due to a holding penalty. Auburn was able to chew up yardage and South Carolina couldn’t get off the field on third down.
Then Jaycee Horn took over. He got his first career interception on a diving grab on third and 11. That was the spark South Carolina needed, as it needed five plays to get into the end zone.
Auburn quickly answered with a touchdown, and then South Carolina had to punt. Momentum was back on Auburn’s side, until Horn made another big play. Bo Nix tried to force an off-balance throw into coverage and Horn got a hand in to deflect it. Jaylin Dickerson made a diving interception, and South Carolina was in business again near midfield.
South Carolina methodically worked the ball into scoring position, and Collin Hill scored on a keeper with 35 second left in the first half. That made the score 16-14, but South Carolina went into the break feeling good about the game.
“I felt really good,” Will Muschamp said. “We were sloppy on defense. Offensively we got a few things going.”
The Tigers added a field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter. Then the Gamecocks leaned on their studs. Creases that barely existed in the first half were now gaping holes for Harris and Deshaun Fenwick to run through. And Shi Smith, who spent more time in the first half arguing than catching passes, was now getting open.
After a three-and-out, Auburn got a momentary reprieve when it intercepted a deflected pass, but Horn came to the rescue again. Nix continued to throw at Horn, and on third and seven, Horn made his second pick of the game. He returned it to the Auburn eight (where he was tackled by Nix). Harris scored on the next play to put South Carolina up 27-19.
“If there’s a better corner out there I want to see him,” Muschamp said. “The guy’s always had nice ball skills. I wish he’d gotten in the end zone on the last one.”
South Carolina relied on Harris and Fenwick to grind out the clock, with a couple of big plays by Smith in between. A spectacular one-handed grab as Smith was falling down netted 32 yards and set up a 39-yard Parker White field goal that made it a two-score game.
After the field goal Auburn needed just three plays to get inside the South Carolina ten, but the drive stalled and Auburn settled for a short field goal. On the next drive, Smith drew a crucial pass interference penalty on third down to keep the drive alive. South Carolina ended up punting, and Auburn took over at its 20 with 2:15 and no timeouts left.
The Tigers were able to drive inside the red zone, but there the drive sputtered. Nix was called for intentional grounding, and then scrambled for a short gain. On the final play he was again pressured and wasn’t able to find the end zone.
“I told T-Rob they have no timeouts, make them spend time,” Muschamp said.
Harris finished with two touchdowns and 83 yards on 25 carries, while Fenwick chipped in 68 on 12 carries. Smith had 76 yards on eight catches. Horn had four pass breakups and two interceptions. Playing without injured Israel Mukuamu and Cam Smith, South Carolina had Horn shadow Seth Williams, Auburn’s best receiver. Auburn and Nix chose to force the ball to Williams anyway, and although he did have four catches for 74 yards (and won a deep jump ball for a 44-yard gain), Horn got the best of the matchup.
“I kinda felt it throughout the week that I was going to have a chance to make plays,” Horn said. “They like to get the ball to 18, and when T-Rob told me I was going to shadow him I knew I’d have chances.”
Nix had 272 yards passing and 69 rushing, but couldn’t overcome three interceptions. Auburn outgained South Carolina 481 to 297 in total yards, but the 3-1 turnover margin was too much to overcome.