Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The University of South Carolina Gamecocks football season may have started two weeks ago, but fans were excited Saturday for the team's home opener against the East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates.
The Gamecocks started off strong with an 80 yard kick-off return from redshirt freshman A.J. Turner.
After being put in good position, freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain, on his first collegiate play as a starter, ran it in to the end zone for nine yard touchdown.
On the first drive for the Gamecock defense, the team quickly forced the Pirates to punt the ball. USC took over possession at their own 16 yard line.
McIlwain completed a 42 yard pass to freshman receiver Bryan Edwards. From there, junior running back David Williams rushed 20 yards to get the Gamecocks on the ECU 10 yard line.
On the very next play McIlwain kept the ball and ran it into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night, putting the Gamecocks ahead 14-0.
Later on in the first quarter, senior kicker Elliot Fry tacked on a 37 yard field goal to make the score 17-0.
ECU's offense responded shortly after with a 32 yard field goal scored by senior kicker Davis Plowman by the end of the first quarter to make it 17-3.
Not much action occurred in the second quarter, minus a 43 yard field goal by ECU. The Pirates trailed the Gamecocks 17-6.
Both offenses would struggle in the third quarter and neither team would put points on the board. The Gamecock defense would come up big with an interception inside their own 10 yard line by junior defensive back Chris Lammons and blocked field goal by junior defensive lineman Ulric Jones.
Heading into the fourth quarter South Carolina led by 11 points.
The Pirates would rely on their field goal unit to catch up with Davis making a 45 yard kick. This was his third for the game.
It wouldn't take long for South Carolina to respond as Elliot Fry answered with a 39 yard field goal, making the score 20-9.
With less than seven minutes to play, ECU drove 75 yards in 13 plays.
Senior quarterback Phillip Nelson completed a touchdown pass to sophomore Devin Anderson and the Pirates would line up for a two point conversion, but couldn't complete the pass.
The Gamecocks were forced to go for it on 4th down with one yard to go. They were able to complete the conversion and finish the game on top, winning 20-15.
South Carolina finished the day with 312 yards of total offense, limiting ECU to only one touchdown and causing four turnovers.
The Gamecocks will take on the University of Kentucky next Saturday at 7:30 pm.
(© 2016 WLTX)