Kentucky beats South Carolina in its SEC opener
Benny Snell rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns as Kentucky opened SEC play by extending its winning streak over South Carolina to four games with a 23-13 victory in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1 SEC) got the jump on the Wildcats (3-0, 1-0) as Deebo Samuel took a pass from Jake Bentley 68 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Linebacker Skai Moore picked off Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson on the ensuing drive.
South Carolina appeared to be in control, but the offense stalled as Johnson and Snell went to work for the Kentucky offense, which scored 20 unanswered points.
Johnson completed 16 of 25 passes for 169 yards. He directed two long scoring drives — each with double-digit plays — as Kentucky went up 14-6 midway through the second quarter on Snell’s second rushing touchdown.
He scored on runs of 5 and 1 yards.
Johnson rushed for 74 yards, with 54 of them coming on one play late in the fourth quarter to set up a 21-yard Austin MacGinnis field goal, his third of the game. He was also good from 27 and 44 yards.
Bentley completed 24 of 36 passes for 304 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Samuel caught five passes for 68 yards but left the game with an injury, which coach Will Muschamp said after the game was a broken leg, ending the receiver’s season.
Bentley and the Gamecocks tried to rally late, as the quarterback hit OrTre Smith on a 9-yard pass for the freshman’s first career touchdown, cutting the score to 20-13 with 6:26 remaining.
The Gamecocks’ final drive ended on an interceptions by cornerback Derrick Baity.
South Carolina gained only 54 yards on the ground, led by Rico Dowdle with 23 yards.
The Gamecocks were 3 of 12 on third downs. They traveled inside the Kentucky 45-yard line on five occasions, but failed to score on each of them.
South Carolina kicker Alexander Woznick missed the PAT on the Gamecocks’ first touchdown. It was the first missed PAT for the program in 164 attempts dating to 2013. South Carolina field goal kicker Parker White missed both of his opportunities — from 52 and 54 yards, while Woznick missed from 42 yards.