South Carolina staged a second half comeback and held on late to defeat UCF 28-25.
The win was a costly one, as Connor Shaw left the game early and didn't return. He hit the ground hard on a rush during which he fumbled, and he wouldn't return to the game. The team called it a shoulder sprain, but we'll see if that diagnosis holds up.
The first half was a very sloppy one for the Gamecocks. They fell behind 10-0 before intermission, and it would've been more, probably, if not for the center stepping on UCF QB Blake Bortles's foot causing him to fumble on third down near the goal line. The miscue caused the Knights to settle for a field goal, and those potential lost points were huge for the final margin. Dylan Thompson was out of sorts after coming in relief for Shaw, and the Gamecocks looked like they were in big trouble.
After the half, they turned to Mike Davis. After having just five carries for 17 yards before the half, Davis ran it 21 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns after intermission. His success on the ground allowed Thompson to settle in, and South Carolina looked to be in good shape up 28-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The Carolina defense wouldn't let this thing end without some drama, though. First they allowed a 73-yard touchdown pass, after which UCF went for two and got it to pull within 10. Later, after a Davis fumble gave the Knights the ball on their own five, Bortles threw a 79-yard pass that set up a seven-yard TD pass on the following play. Bruce Ellington recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Thompson would kneel out the clock after that.
It is difficult to assess a game like this, where South Carolina alternately did and did not have control over it. It was a trap of a game anyway, on the road at noon against a pretty good UCF team. They won, which is always better than losing, but they lost Shaw and backup running back Brandon Wilds to injury. I can't imagine Steve Spurrier will be anxious to have too many more like this one going forward.