CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – South Carolina ran up an 18-0 lead in the first quarter on the way to beating North Carolina 38-21 Thursday in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
The Gamecock offense was efficient running the ball with 5.9 yards per rush over more than 50 attempts. Defensively, they held UNC to just one third-down conversion on nine tries.
Gamecock quarterbacks Dakereon Joyner and Zeb Noland each put their stamps on the game early on. Joyner and Jaheim Bell linked up for a 69-yard touchdown just 4:45 into the game. Then Noland found Bell for another long score — this one from 66 yards out. USC got a two-point conversion following the second touchdown to take a 15-0 lead less than halfway through the first half.
A 30-yard field goal in the final 30 seconds of the quarter pushed that lead to 18-0.
British Brooks got the Tar Heels on the board with a 63-yard dash to the end zone early in the second half. A 40-yard field goal brought UNC within one possession, but Juju McDowell helped make sure the Gamecocks had a two-possession lead at halftime.
USC then received the opening kick of the second half. Kevin Harris, the game’s leading rusher, finished off the drive by punching one in from a yard out to give the Gamecocks a 32-13 lead. That opening drive of the half lasted nine plays and 5:07.
With time becoming more scarce, Sam Howell helped the Tar Heels down the field quickly before connecting with Garrett Walston for a 37-yard touchdown. It cut the deficit to 32-21 with 7:24 left in the third, but USC’s defense clamped down from there.
USC made a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
The Gamecocks controlled the game on the ground. Harris’ 182 yards rushing on 31 carries was a game-best. In total, they ran the ball 51 times for 301 yards, allowing them to move the ball and control the clock. Their quarterbacks attempted just 15 passes.
Howell was 12-of-20 passing for 205 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Brooks led UNC with 72 yards rushing on five carries, but 63 of those yards came on his 63-yard touchdown run.
The Tar Heels finish the season 6-7.