Jones grabs career-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions
COLUMBIA, SC August 28, 2014 – No. 9 South Carolina saw its 18-game home winning streak end tonight to No. 21 Texas A&M, 52-28 at Williams-Brice Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Aggie sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill passed for a school record 511 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns and senior wide receiver Nick Jones had a career-high 113 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
On a third-and five on the opening drive, Hill stepped up in the pocket to create time and found an open Ricky Seals-Jones over the middle where he weaved his way down to the 1-yard line for a 21-yard gain. Tra Carson punched it in to give Texas A&M an early 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game. Senior kicker Josh Lambo made it 10-0 with 5:02 left in the first quarter after converting a 33-yard field goal.
South Carolina responded quickly though on the next drive, despite staring down a three-and-out. On his own 31-yard line, Thompson took a shot down the field and found Jones streaking down the field, getting behind the defense to make a grab at the Aggie 30-yard line before heading into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown. The drive, which took just over a minute, brought the Gamecocks within three at 10-7 with just over three minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
After getting the ball back, South Carolina was unable to sustain the momentum and was forced to punt. During the next 2:22 minutes, Hill methodically moved the ball down the field before connecting with Seals-Jones over the middle for a three-yard score to give the Aggies a 17-7 lead.
Needing a quick response, the Gamecocks found it in senior wide receiver Damiere Byrd. Moving the ball to the Aggie 46-yard line on five plays, Thompson then connected with Byrd after the wideout slipped past his defender and found a 10-yard cushion for an easy 46-yard score to bring the Gamecocks within three at 17-14.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the half, Hill and the Aggies marched down the field with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in Hill finding Edward Pope in the back of the end zone to make it 24-14.
On the Gamecocks next possession, a pair of pass interference calls extended the drive, bringing Carolina down to the Aggies’ 37-yard line, but that was as close as they would get after Thompson was unable to connect with Rory Anderson on a third-and-14. South Carolina was forced to punt the ball back to Texas A&M with 3:35 left in the half.
The Aggies strung together an 11 play, 80-yard drive on the ensuing possession that ended a on Carson’s second touchdown of the half as Hill optioned left to the tailback on third-and-goal from 2-yard line. The score gave the Aggies a 31-14 lead with 1:18 remaining.
A 24-yard pass to Brandon Wilds, followed by a strike to Pharoh Cooper down the middle for 26 yards, brought the Gamecocks back into scoring position at the Aggies 25-yard line. Thompson nearly connected with Jones over the middle for a touchdown, but a hit from Texas A&M’s Armani Watts dislodged the ball at the goal line. An intentional grounding on third down brought up a fourth-and-14. Elliott Frye was unable to connect on the ensuing 54-yard field goal attempt.
Early in the third quarter, Hill found Josh Reynolds in the corner of the end zone to make it 38-14. Thompson then engineered an eight-play drive, amassing 81 yards that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass to Cooper over the middle to make it 38-21. On the ensuing kickoff, South Carolina went for the onside kick, but it was recovered by the Aggies at the 42-yard line. Eight plays later, Carson scored his third touchdown of the game from two yards out as the Aggies extended the lead to 45-21.
A pair of 27-yard passes to Jerrell Adams and Cooper marched the Gamecocks back into the red zone on the following drive. Thompson was able to find Jones drifting out to the right side of the end zone where the wide receiver hauled in his second touchdown of the game to bring Carolina back within 17 points at 45-28. It was his second multi-touchdown game of his career.
After holding the Aggies to their second punt of the quarter, Carolina had a chance to cut into the deficit late in the third quarter, but a deep ball from Thompson was intercepted by Watts at the Texas A&M 17-yard line. Ten plays and 83 yards later, Trey Williams made it 52-28 with a two-yard touchdown run with 12:09 remaining the game.
Trailing 24-14 with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, with South Carolina at the Texas A&M 37-yard line, Thompson was unable to connect with Anderson on a third-and-14. The Aggies then marched down the field on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Tra Carson to make it 31-14.
Dylan Thompson’s four touchdown passes set a new career high and matches Connor Shaw’s four during the Mississippi State game a year ago. His 366 yards is the most for a Gamecock since Shaw for 356 against Tennessee on Oct. 27, 2012. The 40 pass attempts were the most since his winning start at Clemson on Nov. 24, 2012.
South Carolina loses to Texas A&M 52-28, its first loss in the season opener under Steve Spurrier in 10 seasons.
The setback ends an 18-game home winning streak, which was the longest in NCAA Division I. The loss was the first at home for South Carolina since a 16-13 defeat against Auburn on Oct. 1, 2011.
Gamecock senior quarterback Dylan Thompson completed two touchdown passes (69 to Nick Jones, 46 to Damiere Byrd) that measured over 40 yards each in the first half, the first time a South Carolina QB has accomplished that feat since Blake Mitchell found Kenny McKinley for two 43-yard strikes in the 2006 Liberty Bowl against Houston.
Senior wide receiver Nick Jones made five catches for a career-best 113 yards and two touchdowns. The two scores ties his career best from Georgia last year.
Sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper set new career highs with three receptions for 58 yards and one TD.
Tweet of the Game:
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
It was obvious the odds makers don’t know what they’re talking about. That team was so much better than us it wasn’t funny. They out-coached us, out-played us, they were better prepared and they knew what they were doing. We had to throw the ball way too much to try to make some yards. We didn’t run the ball well at all, and we didn’t have a chance to even stay on the field very long. We got into a throw every down type of contest, and we’re not good enough pass blockers, or throwers to get into that. That’s the way it happened. Give Texas A&M their coaches and their players credit. It was a mismatch tonight. I don’t know what else you can say. If we played them again they’d be a three-touchdown favorite. We tried everything we could to slow them down. Offensively, we had a few plays here and there that we liked. Give them credit; they’re a much better team than we are. We’ll regroup, come back and try to fight again against East Carolina in nine days. We’ll see if we can look like we know what we’re doing as coaches. We’ll try to put our players in position. I think our players are better than what they showed, but I don’t know. We have no pass rush, coverage was so-so and they [Texas A&M] knew what they were doing.
South Carolina welcomes East Carolina to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 6 for a 7 p.m. ET, matchup set to be televised on ESPN2/U. The Pirates open their season Saturday at home with North Carolina Central. ECU finished the 2013 season 10-3, defeating Ohio 37-20 in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.