GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Parker White kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired as South Carolina rallied from 14 down to beat East Carolina 20-17 on Saturday, earning its first road win under first-year coach Shane Beamer.
Damani Staley had a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown just before halftime to give the Gamecocks a needed spark after trailing 14-0 in a mistake-filled opening half. Former graduate assistant Zeb Noland also had a game-tying touchdown pass to Dakereon Joyner in the back of the end zone late in the third quarter.
In the end, the Gamecocks (2-0) did enough to give themselves a shot, then rode the legs of Juju McDowell – who gained 45 yards on six carries on South Carolina’s final 10-play drive – to set up White’s winner that had the Gamecocks spilling onto the field from the sideline to celebrate.
South Carolina won despite committing three turnovers in its first five drives, including a goal-line fumble that went through the end zone for a turnover in the first half.
Tyler Snead hit on a 75-yard trick-play touchdown pass to Jsi Hatfield on the game’s first offensive snap for the Pirates (0-2), while Holton Ahlers also ran for a short touchdown for the 14-0 lead. But East Carolina struggled to generate consistent offense, with Ahlers completing 11 of 24 passes for just 77 yards and two interceptions.
The Pirates were hosting a Southeastern Conference team for the first time since South Carolina’s last visit here in 1997.