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South Carolina avoids disaster

The Post and Courier
Sunday, September 2, 2007


USC records workmanlike win

COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier has repeated over and over that he thinks he's got a South Carolina team capable of winning the Southeastern Conference title.

The Gamecocks are going to need better efforts than Saturday's opener to make that even a possibility.

After a quick start, the Gamecocks began to sputter some before grinding out a 28-14 victory against Louisiana-Lafayette in the season opener in front of 78,234 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

A pair of fourth-quarter goal-line stands by the Gamecocks prevented the sizable underdogs from making it even more of a scare for USC.

Out of 119 Division I teams, the

Ragin' Cajuns were rated anywhere from 110th to 115th by several media outlets entering the season. Not quite SEC-level talent.

After falling behind by two touchdowns, Louisiana suddenly found life against a porous USC run defense. The Cajuns reeled off scoring drives of 15 and 11 plays to draw even at 14 with 8:46 to go in the first half.

A pair of Cory Boyd touchdown runs then pushed the Gamecocks (1-0) away from the Cajuns (0-1). Boyd, a senior, finished with 47 yards. Mike Davis had 57 yards on 10 carries.

Up a pair of scores, USC's defense allowed Louisiana to move the ball but kept the Cajuns from the end zone.

On fourth-and-goal from the 2, quarterback Michael Desormeaux couldn't find a receiver and his pass went incomplete. Desormeaux's tuck-and-run offense yielded 113 rushing yards on 19 runs.

Combined, Louisiana had 252 rushing yards, going for 5.4 yards per carry.

After a Gamecocks punt, Desormeaux's feet again put the Cajuns in position to get back into the game. A 15-yard run got Louisiana to the USC 5-yard line. The Gamecocks then got tough, stopping running back Tyrell Fenroy twice for no gain and forcing a Desormeaux incompletion.

On fourth down, the Cajuns tried a trick play by throwing to left tackle Jesse Newman. Newman caught the ball, but was dragged down on the 2-yard line. Even if he'd scored, the play would've been negated by a penalty.

From there, USC devoured the clock and held on for the uninspiring effort.

Things started well for the Gamecocks, who only beat the Cajuns 14-7 in the 2003 opener.

USC, which elected to receive, needed just seven plays and two minutes, 56 seconds to get into the end zone for the first time this fall. Chris Smelley, starting for the suspended Blake Mitchell, found sixth-year senior tight end Andy Boyd for a 2-yard score.

After a quick defensive stop, the Gamecocks scored again 3 1/2 minutes later when Tommy Beecher hit Kenny McKinley on an out route for a 19-yard score.

Smelley and Beecher split snaps early before Beecher took the ball for the entire third quarter and the early part of the fourth.

Smelley, a redshirt freshman, finished 10-for-14 for 101 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Beecher, a redshirt sophomore, ended up 11-for-15 for 137 yards and a score.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com.

"After a quick start, the Gamecocks began to sputter some before grinding out a 28-14 victory against Louisiana-Lafayette in the season opener in front of 78,234 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium." ~The Post and Courier (on USC's opener)