Parker White kicked a 31-yard field goal, the first game-winning kick in his career, with four seconds left to give South Carolina a 17-16 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
It was the first field goal the freshman has made in five tries.
The Gamecocks (3-1) trailed 13-0 before a wild fourth quarter that saw South Carolina take a 14-13 lead, Louisiana Tech (2-2) answer with a 10-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Jonathan Barnes with 55 seconds left.
"We were sloppy with the ball, especially offensively," head coach Will Muschamp said during his post-game press conference. "We put the ball on the ground three times and we lost one - self-inflicted wounds."
But Muschamp gave kudos to a scrappy Lousiana Tech team that posted a shutout through much of the fourth quarter.
"I said all week, Louisiana Tech has a good football team. They'll win Conference USA," Muschamp said. "At the end of the day, we've got to continue to be more productive scoring points."
For White, it was a long week following the loss to Kentucky in front of a sold-out crowd, to missing two field goal attempts in the first half. But he said he never gave up and just get pushing himself to make the next one.
"It's tough because we don't have the 'Men in Black' thing to erase our memory," White said post-game. "It's always going to be in the back of your head. All you can do is just do your best to forget. I have people coming up to me on the sideline after I missed the second kick telling me just to forget about it, that these guys have my back. That helped a lot with people encouraging me."
White was prepared for Muschamp to pull him at halftime, but his head coach said that wasn't going to happen.
"I told Parker at halftime 'You're going the distance, I'm not pulling you out. We're going to put you back in there to kick the ball, and you need to make that kick. And you'll probably win the game for us,'" Muschamp recalled. "It just turned out that's they way it worked out."
Muschamp: #LATech is a tough, good food all team. "They'll win Conference USA."— Tanita Gaither (@TanitaDotWeb) September 23, 2017
But Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley scrambled for 21 yards on third-and-10 and threw a 31-yard pass into three Bulldogs that Bryan Edwards somehow came up with 7 seconds to go. Bentley was 22-of-34 for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Ty'Son Williams ran 13 times for 95.
"I'm glad he's our quarterback," Muschamp said in post-game. "Certainly, in his true sophomore season, he's playing really good football. In those situations, not only does he bring great confidence to our coaching staff, he brings confidence to our whole football team.
Muschamp says LB Bryson Allen-Williams is out for the season due to A shoulder injury. Muschamp says a stable of guys will rotate out of that role to keep defensive players fresh.
Injury report: Corey Helms injured ankle/Achilles. Is day to day. LB Bryson Allen-Williams is out for the season. @wis10— Tanita Gaither (@TanitaDotWeb) September 23, 2017
Allen-Williams tweeted about his injury and how he will make the "minor setback" turn in a "major comeback." Allen-Williams says he plans to use his redshirt status and play his senior year.
Hate I can’t finish the year with my brothers but it’s a Minor setback for a Major comeback ?? pic.twitter.com/WLAK52SiZS— Bryson Allen-Wms (@B_Quatro4) September 23, 2017
“I talk to Bryson almost every day,” Skai Moore said about encouraging his teammate after the injury. “I’m in his ear, talking to him, keeping his head up. He’s a positive guy, looks on the bright side of things and he’ll be alright, for sure.”
A win is a win, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. But he said there is a lot to work on as the meat of the Southeastern Conference season looms.
"We all take the blame together - starting with me," Muschamp said.
J'Mar Smith was 23-of-33 for 281 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Louisiana Tech. Teddy Veal caught 10 passes for 110 yards.
For Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz, it was another shot at a big win that slipped away. The Bulldogs led Arkansas midway through the fourth quarter last year before losing 21-20 and lost to Kansas State 39-33 in triple overtime in 2015.
"We've been close," Holtz said. "There's no moral victory in close."
Next week, the Gamecocks will travel to College Station and play the Texas A&M Aggies at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. It will be the first of six straight SEC matchups for the Gamecocks, which includes away games at Tennessee and Georgia.
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