CHARLOTTE, N.C. — South Carolina raced out to a big early lead and never gave it up as they earned their first bowl victory in nearly four years with a 38-21 win over North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl in Charlotte.
The last time USC had a bowl win was January 1, 2018 when they beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
The Gamecocks got things started in explosive fashion, as Jaheim Bell had a first quarter Gamecocks fans will be talking about for some time. It began on their first drive of the game, when out of the wildcat formation receiver Dakereon Joyner stepped back and threw a bomb to Bell who ran it in the rest of the way for a 69-yard score. it was Joyner's first pass of the season.
On their next possession, Bell would get the call again, this time hauling in a long pass from quarterback Zeb Noland for a 66-yard touchdown reception. The Gamecocks would add some extra flair with a two-point conversion when Noland connected with Nick Muse along the goal line for easy catch. That made it 15-0 with 7:45 left to go in the quarter.
Kicker Parker White would add a field goal later in the quarter, and this would add extra significance than adding three points to the lead. The senior became the all-time points leader in Gamecock history, passing Elliot Fry.
North Carolina would begin to answer in the second quarter, after Tar Heels running back British Brooks ran 63 yards for a touchdown and hit a 40 yard field goal, giving them a 10-0 streak.
The Gamecocks would stop that scoring when Juju McDowell ran for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:27 to go before halftime making it 25-10. North Carolina, however, would tack on a field goal with 44 seconds to go to trim the lead to 12 points.
USC started the scoring in the second half, when Kevin Harris capped a 9 play, 75 yard drive with a one yard scoring run. Harris had a big game himself, with 182 yards on 31 carries.
But on their next drive, North Carolina's Sam Howell would find tight end Garrett Walston for a 37-yard score through the air.
The Gamecocks, however, would tack on two more field goals to put the game out of reach.
With the victory, USC (7-6) gets their first winning season since 2018, giving them momentum for Head Coach Shane Beamer's second season in Columbia this fall. The team brought in a strong recruiting class and had former five-start quarterback Spencer Rattler transfer from Oklahoma.
Oh, and Shane Beamer got one more thing: a bath in Duke's Mayonnaise, a custom for the winning coach in this contest.