Gamecocks defeat No. 15 Auburn for first time in more than 80 years

Gamecocks defeat No. 15 Auburn for first time in more than 80 years
Shi Smith leaps for the touchdown catch at Williams-Brice Stadium against Auburn on October 17, 2020 (Source: Travis Bell)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the first time since 1933, South Carolina takes down Auburn.

Thanks to three Bo Nix interceptions -- two collected by Jaycee Horn -- the Gamecocks take down No. 15 Auburn 30-22 in a chippy, drama-filled contest.

“Really proud of our football team,” said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. “That was a hell of a win. It was a hell of a football game. Auburn’s got a good team. Our guys fought their a** off. They kept hanging in there regardless of the circumstances and the situation and they made the plays we had to make.”

Auburn got things going early. Following a 35-yard field goal by Anders Carlson, the Tigers marked 56 yards on their second drive with Bo Nix punctuating the series with an 11-yard pass to Eli Stove to make it 9-0.

Meanwhile, Carolina’s offense was pedestrian at best in the first quarter. The Gamecocks only put together 21 total yards in the opening period.

However, Carolina was able to cut into the deficit in the second quarter.

Thanks to Jaycee Horn’s first career interception, the Gamecocks cashed in on the takeaway with a 3-yard run by Kevin Harris to make it a 9-7 game with 12:49 left in the half.

But Auburn responded by pushing their lead back to nine. After a 44-yard pass to Seth Williams, Tank Bigsby rushed into the end zone from two yards out ending a 16-7 lead.

But Carolina’s defense came away with another turnover. This time, Jaylin Dickerson hauled in the deflected pass. That led to a second Gamecock touchdown scored by Collin Hill on a quarterback sneak. With that, South Carolina found themselves down 16-14 at halftime.

“We were not playing well as an offense,” Gamecocks quarterback Collin Hill said. “Defense really did a great job of creating turnovers for us and keeping us in it. They did a great job with the tempo that Auburn brings. Really, those stops and the turnovers were huge for us. Going into the half down two points, it was very -- kinda weird to say -- encouraging for us to know that we haven’t even scratched the surface offensively of what we wanted to do, but we’re still right there.”

After Auburn extended their lead with Carlson’s second field goal of the day, Carolina took their first lead of the contest. On a free play due to an offsides penalty against Auburn, Collin Hill threw his first touchdown pass of the day to Shi Smith. Despite a failed 2-point conversion, Carolina took a 20-19 lead with 6:31 left in the third quarter.

“It’s expected of me,” Smith said when asked about his performance on Saturday. “Making play downfield, that’s something we’ve got to get better at as an offense and the coaches are telling me that’s something we’ve got to get better at and I’m just buying in.”

Smith had eight catches for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Tigers.

Jaycee Horn continued to have a great day against Auburn. Late in the third quarter, he collected his second interception of the day and returned it inside the Auburn 10-yard line.

“That’s a bad man,” Hill said when asked about Horn. “I hate going against him [in practice]. It makes us better, but you’ve always got to know where that guy is.”

“It felt good,” Horn said when asked about his first two career interceptions. “I kinda felt it all throughout the week. I was going to have a couple of good opportunities because Auburn likes to get the ball to their best receiver, No. 18. When [defensive coordinators Travaris Robinson] gave me the task of following him, I kinda felt that I’d have opportunities to make plays on the ball.”

One play later, Harris strolled into the end zone on the 8-yard run pushing the Gamecocks ahead 27-19. Harris rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

With Auburn trailing 30-22 in the final minutes of the quarter, Bo Nix orchestrated a drive that provided some drama in the end. In the end, Nix’s fourth-down run came up short leaving the Tigers out of chances.

In all, South Carolina was outgained 481-297 and had seven fewer first downs, but it was the defense that came up big for Carolina when they needed it most.

The win is South Carolina’s third victory over a ranked opponent under Will Muschamp.

Carolina travels to LSU next week.

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