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South Carolina Edges NC State

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South Carolina Edges NC State

The University of South Carolina won a tough game on the road this weekend, beating NC State 22-20 in Raleigh, NC.

It was a solid bounceback game for the Gamecocks, who were beaten soundly by Life University the week before.

It didn’t dart out week for USC, as flanker Dana Corcoran had to leave the game after getting an accidental bot to the face. He was replaced by Jared Magill, a good player but one who was stepping on the field for the first time since knee surgery. USC also saw their captain and emotional leader, Zac Gorman, go off with a shoulder injury, and prop Ben Mather, another key part of the pack, also had to leave.

Down three key players, USC feel behind 10-0 at halftime.

But, after having given up 101 unanswered points in the previous 120 minutes, the Gamecocks rebounded. They kept the ball better and forced a retreating Wolfpack defense to commit penalties to slow the advance. Scrumhalf Brian Keown kicked a penalty to make it 10-3, but the Wolfpack replied with a try to lead 15-3.

USC needed tries, so the next penalty meant they took the lineout option, and a snappy take by Nick Winikoff set up freshman center Christian Harrell for a try. Suddenly it was a one-score game. More NC State penalties and a Keown quick tap set up Winikoff, who thundered in to tie the game. Keown’s conversion put USC ahead.

Keown seemed to be in control now, and his kick ahead for wing James Whipper produced another try. NC State made a final surge, and managed to score, but the conversion was wide.

No. 8 Mike Mahon put in a big performance for USC, while Winikoff, flyhalf Michael Rudzinsky, Harrell, and Keown were all key contributors.

"Injuries were crucial today, though thankfully we were able to adjust and pull through," said USC Head Coach Mark Morris. "To lose three key pack players early on during what amounted to a forward centered match was not ideal, though the reserves stepped up and kept the tempo going. Nick did a great job leading the pack after Gorman went out and Mahon had a strong game all day. Rudy kept up the attack defensively and Christian continues to shine under pressure. The score was a lot closer than I would have liked, though you have to hand it to NC State for putting together a strong performance. Hopefully, everyone is healthy in time for Furman next week and we continue to play smart under pressure."

USC won the reserve-grade match 22-15.