Running back A.J. Turner had a career night for South Carolina with three touchdowns, and Jake Bentley tied a career high with four touchdown passes as the Gamecocks became bowl eligible in a 49-9 win over Chattanooga in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday.
Turner had two TD receptions and a rushing score for the Gamecocks (6-4), who rebounded from a 35-31 road loss to No. 15-ranked Florida last Saturday in their final SEC contest.
A junior reserve in a depleted USC backfield, Turner had three scores in each of his first two seasons but matched that in the first half against the Mocs despite playing with a quad contusion.
Mon Denson, Shi Smith, Deebo Samuel and Deshaun Fenwick also had TDs, and Bentley was exceptional in completing 25 of 29 passes for 339 yards.
South Carolina produced 602 yards of total offense and played numerous reserves in the second half.
The Gamecocks have been bowl eligible in all three seasons during Will Muschamp’s tenure. The win was his 21st, tying him with previous coach Steve Spurrier for the most career wins at USC in a coach’s first three seasons.
The Mocs (6-5) scored on a field goal by Victor Ulmo and a trick play TD pass from receiver Bryce Nunnelly to quarterback Nick Tiano, but they lost their third straight. Nunnelly caught five passes for 141 yards.
Bentley connected with Turner on a mismatch, as the running back sprinting out of the backfield was covered by a linebacker on the right edge. Turner easily ran by him for a 16-yard score at 9:53 of the first quarter.
Bentley found Turner again after the quarterback scrambled left, stopped near the sideline and threw back to the right side of the end zone. Turner tip-toed along the end line to haul in the 6-yard score at 4:16.
After Ulmo’s 36-yard field goal, Turner ripped off an 11-yard TD run just over a minute later for a 21-3 lead. Denson scored from a yard out to make it 28-7 at halftime.
Smith cut back near the sideline, broke through a pair of Mocs defenders after being wrapped up and ran in for a 53-yard TD reception less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Samuel grabbed a pass and streaked 61 yards for a score, and Fenwick, who had a game-high 112 rushing yards, added a short TD run.
—Field Level Media