EditorsNote: 1st graf, change touchdown passes to touchdowns; 8th graf, change Park White to Parker White
Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for five touchdowns as No. 2 Alabama shook off South Carolina in the second half for a 47-23 victory in their Southeastern Conference opener Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Playing in the fourth quarter for the first time this season, Tagovailoa completed 28 of 36 passes for 444 yards to help the Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 SEC) outscore the Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1) 23-13 in the second half. Tagovailoa registered his eighth career game with at least four touchdowns passes.
Receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris had two touchdown receptions each while combining for 13 catches for 223 yards. Receiver Henry Ruggs III had six catches for 122 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski was 36 of 57 for 324 yards and two touchdowns for the Gamecocks, who nearly doubled Alabama’s run production (135 yards to 76) but hurt themselves with mistakes and penalties in crucial situations.
Two misplays on fourth-down gambles cost them, and they lost an opportunity to make it a one-score game at the half when they couldn’t cross the goal line after having second-and-goal from the Alabama 1. A fourth-down pass was incomplete as time ran out in the second quarter.
Tagovailoa threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns to help Alabama to a 24-10 halftime lead.
Harris made what may have been the play of the day when he broke two tackles and leapt completely over a defender on a 42-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
The Gamecocks pulled out all stops with two fakes on fourth-down plays, but a holding penalty nullified kicker Parker White’s touchdown run on a fake field goal in the first quarter, and receiver Shi Smith was stopped short of a first down on a run from punt formation in the second quarter.
South Carolina’s Rico Dowdle ran for 102 yards on 12 carries.
—Field Level Media