Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina’s Troy Williamson scored on a 14-yard pass with just over a minute left in the game to earn a 35-32 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The loss dropped Arkansas to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina improved to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. The win makes South Carolina bowl eligible, while the Razorbacks will need to win their final three games in order to qualify for a bowl berth.
The Razorbacks overcame an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a four-point lead before the Gamecocks mounted a rally of their own.
Arkansas finished with 385 yards of total offense with 247 rushing and 138 passing. Matt Jones led all rushers with 111 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. De’Arrius Howard ran for 91 yards on 21 carries and DeCori Birmingham had seven carries for 28 yards.
Jones also threw for 138 yards on 12-of-24 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Razorbacks had three turnovers for the game.
Marcus Monk had a career high with 95 receiving yards on seven receptions with a score.
Demetrius Summers led South Carolina with 61 yards rushing on 13 carries. Syvelle Newton, who finished the game for injured starter Dondrial Pinkins, ran for 49 yards on 12 carries and threw for 98 yards on 11-of-16 passing with one touchdown.
Pinkins added 61 yards through the air on 5-of-8 passing and 44 yards rushing on seven carries.
The Razorback offense was unable to generate points on its first possession of the game, but the defense picked up the slack on the Gamecocks’ ensuing possession.
Vickiel Vaughn picked off a Pinkins pass and returned it 52 yards for the touchdown to give the Hogs a 7-0 lead. It was the second defensive touchdown for the Razorbacks in the last two games.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Gamecocks fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Michael Grant for the Razorbacks. But, the officials ruled an inadvertent whistle blew during the play which negated the fumble and the Hogs had to re-kick.
South Carolina held onto the next kickoff and needed only two plays to move to midfield. A 27-yard run by Demetrius Summers put the ball on the Arkansas 23-yard line.
Troy Williamson then took a reverse to the Arkansas five-yard line. On third down, Pinkins ran in for the score to even the game at 7-7 with 9:35 left in the first quarter.
On the Hogs’ next possession Jones scrambled on third down for 36 yards to the Carolina 43-yard line.
Jones then hit Monk at the Carolina 12 to move the Hogs into scoring position. On third down, Jones scrambled in from seven yards out to give the Razorbacks a 14-7 lead with 3:16 remaining in the opening quarter.
The track meet continued as Pinkins scrambled 24 yards on first down to move the Gamecocks to the Arkansas 49-yard line. A Pinkins completion to Cory Boyd moved the ball to the Arkansas 37.
Summers then shed several tacklers and carried the ball to the Arkansas six-yard line to set up a first-and-goal. Two plays later Daccus Turman carried the ball into the end zone to even the score at 14-14.
After both teams were forced to punt, the Razorbacks moved to the South Carolina 48-yard line where they faced fourth-and-two. Jones kept the ball on the option and picked up the first down with a five-yard run.
Jones then hit Monk for a 25-yard completion to put the ball on the South Carolina 17. An incomplete pass and short run put the Hogs in a third-and-eight from the 15. Jones’ pass was incomplete and the Hogs lined up for a field goal attempt.
Chris Balseiro’s 33-yard kick was good and gave the Hogs a 17-14 lead. It was the first converted field goal attempt for the Razorbacks since the Texas game, a span of six games.
The Gamecocks were unable to move into scoring position in the final few minutes of the second quarter and the first half ended with the Hogs holding three point lead.
The Razorbacks forced the Gamecocks to punt on the opening possession of the first half and quickly moved into South Carolina territory.
Arkansas faced third-and-five from the South Carolina 39. Jones pitched to Peyton Hillis who picked up the first down by the length of the ball to keep the drive moving.
On the ensuing play, Hillis fumbled the ball and Ko Simpson recovered it and returned it 57 yards for the touchdown. It gave the Gamecocks a 21-17 lead with 9:43 left in the third quarter.
South Carolina’s Taqiy Muhammad picked off a Jones pass on the Hogs’ ensuing possession and returned it to the Arkansas 23-yard line.
Following a false start penalty against South Carolina, Newton carried for 20 yards to the eight-yard line. Two plays netted three yards and brought up third-and-goal from the five. Newton kept the ball on a quarterback keeper and scampered into the end zone to push the South Carolina lead to 28-17 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.
The Razorbacks closed the third quarter on the march. A Jones-to-Birmingham completion followed by a Hillis run moved the ball to midfield as the quarter came to an end.
On second-and-12 from the 40, Jones scrambled 25 yards to the South Carolina 15-yard line. On second down from the 13, Jones hit Monk for a touchdown to pull the Hogs within five points. On the two-point conversion attempt, Jones hit Birmingham who barely moved inside the pylon before going out of bounds to complete the conversion and make it a 28-25 game.
The Gamecocks took the ensuing kickoff and methodically marched into Arkansas territory. South Carolina faced third-and-five from the Arkansas 37-yard line where Newton was tackled for a two-yard loss to force a punt.
The Hogs forced some good luck as Elliott Harris blocked the punt. It was recovered by South Carolina and returned to the Arkansas 40-yard line, where the Hogs took over.
Three plays moved the chains and gave the Hogs a first down at the South Carolina 45-yard line. De’Arrius Howard then carried for 13 yards to the 32 and a first down.
Jones hit Birmingham to the nine-yard line to bring up second-and-two. Howard carried two yards to give the Hogs first-and-goal from the seven-yard line. Howard finished the drive with a seven-yard plunge to give the Hogs a 32-28 lead with 3:24 left in the game.
The Gamecocks returned the ensuing kickoff to the 37-yard line. A nine-yard completion set up a third-and-one from the 47. Newton kept the ball on a quarterback sneak to get the first down for South Carolina.
After an incompletion, Newton hit Noah Whiteside for a 20-yard completion to the Arkansas 30-yard line with 1:49 left in the game.
With the blitz coming, Newton hit Whiteside again for a 16-yard completion to the 14-yard line. On the next play, Newton hit Williamson who slipped a tackle and dashed into the end zone for the score and a 35-32 lead.
South Carolina was called for an unsportsman like conduct penalty for celebrating after the score. As a result, the Gamecocks had to kickoff from the 20-yard line instead of the 35.
Birmingham returned the kick to the Arkansas 37-yard line with 1:02 left in the game.
On first down, Jones scrambled out of the pocket and down the sideline for 17 yards to the South Carolina 46-yard line. On the next play, Jones’ pass was intercepted by Simpson at the two-yard line to end the drive and seal the win for the Gamecocks.
Arkansas returns to action next Saturday against the Ole Miss Rebels at 11:30 a.m. CT. The game will be televised by Jefferson Pilot.