COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — The South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1) held on after a big first quarter to claim a 20-15 win over East Carolina (2-1) on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead, putting the first touchdown on the board just 17 seconds into the contest. Freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain ran in the first score from nine yards out after A.J. Turner posted an 80-yard return on the game’s opening kickoff.
McIlwain and the Gamecocks put together their second touchdown drive on their second possession, with the signal-caller capping the drive with a 10-yard run. The freshman connected with fellow rookie Bryan Edwards on the drive’s big play, as Edwards brought down the 42-yard reception. David Williams followed that with a 20-yard run to set up McIlwain’s score.
Senior Elliott Fry posted the first of three field goals that wrapped the first half, his from 37 to make it 17-0 halfway through the first quarter. East Carolina got two field goals of their own before halftime, one in each quarter, to make it 17-6. Davis Plowman hit from 32 and 43 yards for the Pirates.
Junior Jamarcus King had the biggest defensive play of the half, picking off a third-and-goal pass from the one to deny the Pirates a touchdown.
The Gamecock defense made big plays in the second half. Junior Chris Lammons made an interception at the one to stop East Carolina’s first drive of the third quarter. On the Pirates’ next possession, they drove to the Gamecock 8. The attempted 25-yard field goal was blocked by junior Ulric Jones, negating another ECU scoring chance.
Both teams hit field goals in the fourth quarter, Plowman a 45-yarder and Fry a 39-yarder. East Carolina drew within five points after a late four-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Nelson to Devin Anderson. The two-point conversion failed, and Hayden Hurst recovered the onside kick to get the ball and the win for South Carolina.
Turner’s 80-yard kickoff return to start the game put the momentum on the Gamecocks’ side early, which helped them post a big first-quarter lead.
The Gamecock defense posted four turnovers in the game for the first time this year, with two interceptions and one fumble all coming as the Pirates were in the red zone.
McIlwain went 16-for-28 with 195 yards as a passer, while he had both Gamecock scores on the ground as part of his nine-carry, 34-yard performance.
Edwards had five receptions for 68 yards, including a 42-yard grab.
Williams tallied seven carries for 67 yards.
Head coach Will Muschamp claimed his first home win at South Carolina in front of 80,384 fans.
T.J. Holloman led the Gamecocks with nine tackles.
Lammons posted eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.