November 19, 2011

Bulldogs Finish Season With 41-20 Loss at (14) South Carolina

Post Game Notes
Post Game Quotes

Columbia, S.C. — Three second-half touchdowns by 14th-ranked South Carolina proved to be the difference in the 41-20 victory over The Citadel at Williams-Brice Stadium in front of 76,816 in attendance on Saturday.

The Gamecocks avenged a 38-35 Citadel victory that took place 21 years ago when the two teams last met at Williams-Brice and now hold a 40-7-3 edge in the all-time series between the two schools.

The Citadel offensive attack was highlighted by 241 yards on the ground, including a team-high 88 by Darien Robinson. The Bulldogs also had solid performances from Rickey Anderson (8 carries, 69 yards) and Ben Dupree (18 carries, 61 yards). The offense committed four fumbles, but recovered all of them, resulting in no turnovers on the day. The Cadets also showed their discipline with only one penalty for a total of five yards, maintaining their ranking as the least penalized team in the FCS. Defensively, the efforts of Rod Harland, who finished with a team-high nine tackles, including one for a loss of 11 yards, led the way for the Dogs. Teammate Tolu Akindele added eight tackles, including five solo, to cap off his four-year career.
"I can't say how proud I am of our players and how they handled themselves in front of 76,000 people and our guys did not blink at all," said Citadel Head Coach Kevin Higgins. "We needed to have no penalties; we had one penalty for five yards. We're the least penalized team in the country right now. We needed to have no turnovers, we had zero turnovers and we hoped to get two or three to win the game and we got one. If we could have gotten one or two more in the third quarter, that may have made a difference."

South Carolina took the opening possession of the game from its own 31-yard line. The Gamecocks opened with a 22-yard pass from Connor Shaw to Alshon Jeffrey, placing themselves at the Bulldogs 47. Seven plays later, following a Harland sack of Shaw that pushed the ball back 11 yards, a completion to Brandon Wilds set up USC at the Dogs 7-yard line. Shaw pushed the offense forward to the one-yard line where Wilds capitalized on a touchdown at the 10:17 mark of the quarter.

The opening drive for The Citadel did not fare as well, after a fumble on the option exchange between Dupree and VanDyke Jones put the Bulldogs at their own 16-yard line. However, the Bulldogs were able to rely on the strength of their special teams with a 59-yard boot from Cass Couey that placed South Carolina at its own 25-yard line.

Three plays later, after Wilds gained 11 yards for the Gamecocks, Rah Muhammed intercepted a Shaw pass and returned it four yards to set up the Dogs offense at the South Carolina 39.

A heavy dose of Robinson ensued for The Citadel, as the running back carried the ball five times for a gain of 34 yards to move the ball to the South Carolina five-yard line. Robinson ran behind center and was hit by Rodney Paul, forcing a fumble, but recovered the fumble in the end zone to knot the game at 7-7 with 4:47 remaining.

South Carolina took the third possession of the contest from the 28-yard line, and battled through two early third-down situations to put themselves at The Citadel 36-yard line on the ninth play of the drive. Shaw moved the offense to the 26 on a 10-yard gain on a fourth-and-nine situation, to put the Gamecocks at the 26. Eight plays later Wilds capped off an 18-play, 72-yard drive with a touchdown at the 9:18 mark of the second quarter to give the Gamecocks a 14-7 advantage.

Robinson picked up 29 of The Citadel's next 72 yards as the Dogs offense pushed the ball into South Carolina territory for the first time in the game. With the ball at the Gamecocks 15-yard line, a pair of short gains by Dupree set up a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Sellers that cut the Gamecock deficit to 14-10 with 8:20 remaining.

South Carolina overcame a Victor Hampton fumble at their own 21-yard line, during the kickoff return, to take over at the 29. Three plays later, from the 40, Shaw eluded the Bulldogs defense on a draw play for a 60-yard dash into the end zone for the 21-10 lead.

The Citadel offense returned to the field and quickly took advantage of a 13-yard gain by Rickey Anderson. A pair of gains by Dupree, which included carries of four and eight yards, placed the Dogs at the USC 23 with three seconds before halftime. It was there that the Cadets turned to Sellers, who converted a 41-yard field goal for the 20-13 halftime score.

Opening the second half on its own 19, The Citadel utilized 20 yards on a pair of carries by Rickey Anderson to move to their own 42 by the fourth play of the drive. Three plays later, highlighted by a 12-yard gain by Dupree, the Bulldogs again moved to the USC 40. A pair of rushing attempts by Robinson and Jones moved the ball to the 35, before an attempted lateral pushed the Dogs out of field goal range, forcing a Couey punt.

Pinned inside their own 10, South Carolina relied on the running game of Wilds, who picked up 54 yards on four plays, to move to The Citadel 25. The Gamecocks spent their first timeout of the second half to set up a Shaw 25-yard pass to Ace Sanders which resulted in a 27-13 lead with 2:44 remaining.

Following a Citadel possession that resulted in only 10 yards from scrimmage, South Carolina again took over the ball inside its own 10-yard line. On the second play of the drive Shaw hooked up with Jeffrey for an 18-yard gain that moved the ball to the Gamecock 29 for the final play of the third quarter. USC sustained the drive, moving to the Bulldogs 38 following a pair of six-yard carries by Wilds. The following play, Shaw found Jeffrey in the corner of the end zone for an acrobatic one-handed touchdown reception, resulting in the 34-13 lead.

Keith Gamble broke off a 37-yard kickoff return to set-up The Citadel at its own 42. Behind Dupree, who carried the ball five times among the first nine plays, the Dogs moved the ball to the South Carolina 12-yard line. It was there that Anderson found paydirt in his final collegiate game on a 12-yard run to the end zone, making for a 34-20 score.

The Gamecocks answered on their final possession with a six-play drive that covered 38 yards in just over three minutes, capped off by a 20-yard pass from Shaw to Rory Anderson. Jay Wooten tacked on the extra point to make for the 41-20 final.
Wilds anchored the South Carolina offense with 20 carries for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Shaw connected on 16-of-18 passes for 217 yards and three strikes, as South Carolina posted 473 yards of total offense on 55 plays. Shaw also managed 90 yards on the ground, including his career-long 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Teammate Rodney Paulk led the USC defense with 12 tackles, seven solo, and was one of five players to record a tackle for loss. 

The Citadel closes out the 2011 campaign at 4-7, including a mark of 2-6 against Southern Conference competition. Meanwhile, South Carolina heads into their regular season finale with a record of 9-2 overall.

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