COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina tailback MarShawn Lloyd wasn't expecting much stadium atmosphere Thursday night.
He and the Gamecocks got a bigger surprise than they could've imagined.
“It was amazing,” Lloyd said after South Carolina's 50-10 victory over FCS opponent South Carolina State in a game moved up from its Saturday start with Hurricane Ian projected to hit the Palmetto State.
“It felt like our fans really cared about us and made sure they came,” Lloyd said. “I wasn't even thinking there was that much people here.”
Administrators at both schools agreed to the change because of the hurricane’s approach. Ian moved through Florida into the Atlantic and was expected to re-enter land in the Palmetto State as a Category 1 storm Friday.
Many parking areas were half-filled at best and the normal, Southeastern Conference-style tailgating setups were absent for this one. South Carolina said 61,551 were at Williams-Brice Stadium, which lists a capacity of 77,559. But the upper decks were largely empty and it wasn’t a stretch to think only about the announced crowd came out.
Oklahoma transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score as the Gamecocks (3-2) scored 50 or more points in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1995.
Rattler finished with 212 yards, completing 21 of 27 passes including a 5-yard scoring strike to tailback MarShawn Lloyd and an 11-yarder to tight end Austin Stogner, his teammate at Oklahoma, to help South Carolina (3-2) rout the Bulldogs (1-3).
“That's happened a few times before,” Rattler said about his TD pass to Stogner. “I definitely had deja vu on that one.”
The Gamecocks overcame a sluggish start, including two interceptions off Rattler's receivers' hands, to take control in the opening half.
The Gamecocks broke through on Rattler's first-quarter TD toss to Lloyd, which was followed by a funky, “swinging gate” formation on a successful two-point conversion by defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway.
South Carolina pulled out the wishbone on its next touchdown, a 1-yard handoff to versatile tight end Jaheim Bell. Rattler ran his way to a score from 6 yards out with 37 seconds left in the half to put Gamecocks up 22-0.
South Carolina State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had more penalty yards than offensive yards, 112 to 83, in the first 30 minutes. The Bulldogs got their only touchdown on Tyrece Nick's 1-yard touchdown run right after halftime, ending a drought where they had gone three straight quarters without points.
Nick accounted for 158 of the Bulldogs' 220 yards of offense.
South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough said his team, which famously won the Celebration Bowl over Jackson State and coach Deion Sanders, 31-10,last year, has not performed well this season and he's got to back to the drawing board before their next game.
“People say ‘You’re 1-3, but you're better than that,'” Pough said. “No, we're not. We're 1-3 and we look like it.”
South Carolina State: The Bulldogs had lost their earlier FBS game, 56-10 at UCF to open the season. They certainly put up a better showing in their home state — the campuses are located about 40 miles apart — and leave with $500,000 for playing at Williams-Brice.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks got their run game going a week ago in a 56-20 win over Charlotte when they rushed for 295 yards. This time, they got Rattler and the passing game on track. Both will be needed when they return to SEC play at No. 7 Kentucky next week.
South Carolina coach Shane Beamer announced right before kickoff that offensive line coach Greg Adkins was stepping away from the team temporarily due to minor health issues. Adkins is in his second year leading the offensive line. Beamer said offensive analyst Lonnie Teasley moved into Adkins' role during the absence.
TRASH PICK UP
South Carolina runners MarShawn Lloyd and Christian Beal-Smith went to coach Shane Beamer about the mood of the team after consecutive SEC losses to No. 20 Arkansas and No. 1 Georgia earlier this month. A few days before a 56-20 win over Charlotte on Sept. 24, Beamer had trash all over the locker room. He told them to pick a piece up and throw away all that was bothering them about the season so far. “Since then, we're connecting on all cylinders,” Lloyd said with a smile.
South Carolina State hosts Florida A&M on Oct. 8.
South Carolina returns to SEC play at No. 7 Kentucky on Oct. 8.
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