Spurrier surprises Gators

Gamecocks abandon pass to win for first time in series since 1939

South Carolina 30 No. 12 Florida 22

Game Of The Day

College football

November 13, 2005|By JOSEPH PERSON | JOSEPH PERSON,THE STATE

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nobody wanted to leave.

Unlike the last time Steve Spurrier coached in a Florida-South Carolina game when Gamecocks fans beat a path to the parking lots in the third quarter, the post-game tailgates could wait yesterday.

The real party was inside Williams-Brice Stadium, where the Spurrier history-making tour rolled on.

Four years after frustrating the Gamecocks' faithful in the infamous "Blackout" game, Spurrier turned the table on his alma mater in South Carolina's 30-22 win before a rocking crowd of 83,241.

While they left the goal posts alone, South Carolina fans and players did mocking versions of the Gator chomp and soaked up the Gamecocks' first victory over Florida since 1939. Spurrier soaked up the win when players drenched him with ice water.

"I told you guys we had a lot of history that we could set at South Carolina," Spurrier said. "I didn't think we'd set this much this year."

South Carolina (7-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) broke a 14-game losing streak to No. 12 Florida and clinched at least a second-place finish in the SEC's East Division. The Gamecocks can win the East if Georgia loses to Kentucky.

Besides improving their bowl chances, the Gamecocks won their fifth consecutive SEC game for the first time since joining the conference in 1992, beat their highest-ranked opponent since a win over No. 9 Georgia in 2000, and broke a skid that spanned eight decades.

"They kept on saying it was like 1930-something. I was like, `I don't care about football back then.' I wasn't even born," defensive tackle Chris Tucker said. "We were like, `We can keep on making history.' Try to beat Tennessee and Florida the same year. That's what we did."

In doing so, the Gamecocks erased the sting of a 54-17 loss to Florida in 2001, Spurrier's final year in Gainesville.

"I love the Gators, always will," he said. "But I'm at South Carolina now. This is my team."

After taking a low-key approach all week, Spurrier found an understated way to win his first game against his former school. With the Gators (7-3, 5-3) lined up in a soft zone coverage with two safeties deep, Spurrier abandoned his trademark vertical passing game in favor of a between-the-tackles, power running attack.

The Gamecocks rushed for 120 yards and finished with season lows in pass attempts (17) and completions (seven). For the first time this season, South Carolina did not have a passing touchdown.

"We thought we'd sort of pick at them," Spurrier said. "I think they thought we'd probably throw a lot."

He was right.

"We had a lot of time spent in coverage because we felt like they were going to come out and throw the ball all over the place," Florida first-year coach Urban Meyer said.

Freshman tailback Mike Davis picked his way for 89 yards and two rushing touchdowns and fullback Daccus Turman added a pair of short touchdown runs.

After Josh Brown's 37-yard field goal put South Carolina up 30-19 with 9:04 left, Florida took over on its 20 needing two scores to win or tie. The Gators used 17 plays and took more than six minutes before settling for a field goal with 2:51 left.

Kenny McKinley recovered the ensuing onside kick. When the Gamecocks punted with a minute left, the Gators were called for having 12 men on the field, giving South Carolina a first down and setting off the celebration.

Joseph Person writes for The State in Columbia, S.C.

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