COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina had two weeks to prepare to play the seventh-ranked Texas A&M Aggies.
The extra time did not serve them well. TAMU stormed the castle to secure the most lopsided victory in series history, 48-3, as the visiting Aggies improved to 7-0 all-time against the Gamecocks (2-4).
Carolina’s opening drive set the tone for what turned out to be a tough night to watch in Columbia. The Gamecocks attempted to ignite the crowd on a well-executed play-action pass from Collin Hill to Jalen Brooks running free down the field. Brooks burned his defender, but he had the pass bounce off his fingertips and skip to the turf. The play could have resulted in a touchdown. Instead, the Gamecocks leave the field empty-handed on their first drive.
The offense was out of sync from start to finish. Gamecock quarterback Collin Hill and his targets were out of sync. The open date did not serve them well to fix issues in the passing game. The senior starter finished 8-of-21 for 66 yards passing and two interceptions.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, found its flow by the second drive of the game. It ended with a house call. The Aggies started on their 48-yard line. They converted a critical fourth down deep in Carolina territory to extend the drive.
Kellen Mond capped it off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ainias Smith to give TAMU a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Aggies converted 4-of-7 on third downs early to extend drives and create scoring chances. It allowed them to add to their lead in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-short deep in Carolina territory, Mond rolled to his right and threw back across the field to an open Jalen Wydermyer for the 15-yard touchdown connection to make it 14-0 Aggies. The perfectly designed play capped off a 10-play drive that lasted nearly six minutes.
The Gamecocks stepped back onto the field only to exit just as fast. Hill’s pass on the second snap of Carolina’s fifth drive wound up in the wrong hands. Texas A&M’s Keldrick Carper intercepted the Hill offering into double coverage. It was a poor decision the Aggies made Hill pay for to gain possession on their 42-yard line.
Carolina’s defense held, but any momentum generated vanished as soon as the offense stepped on the field. Hill connected on a third-and-long to Josh Vann. A 28-yard run by Kevin Harris followed that to the TAMU 22. The drive stalled out and Parker White missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Aggies would take over on their 27-yard line. Isaiah Spiller carries them down the field on a 52-yard run. A few plays later, Mond links up with Wydermyer for his second touchdown grab of the half. Aggies go up 21-0 at the half.
The Gamecocks offense looked lost under the lights in the first half. They totaled 68 yards on 25 plays, compared to the Aggies 248 yards on offense. TAMU controlled possession for more than 21 minutes, which appeared to wear down Carolina’s defense by the end.
The second half started the way the Aggies ended the first 30 minutes. Texas A&M marched right down the field methodically on its opening drive. Following Mond’s 15 yard touchdown run to make it 27-0, the student section in Carolina chanted, “Fire Muschamp.”
Carolina’s offense did not change the temperature inside the stadium. On its second drive, another chorus of boos from the crowd came after Hill’s second interception of the night. On fourth down from around midfield, Hill threw into a tight window, which resulted in a batted ball that was picked.
The Gamecocks with Hill at the helm never found their stride. Backup quarterback Ryan Hilinski checked into the game in the fourth quarter. His first drive resulted in a Parker White 48-yard field goal. Hilinski completed 4-of-6 passes for 34 yards, including converting on two fourth-down opportunities.
The Aggies finished with 530 total yards of offense while converting an outstanding 12-of-16 third-down opportunities.
Carolina next plays at Ole Miss on November 14 at 7:30 p.m.