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August 28, 2008
South Carolina pulls away late
COLUMBIA, S.C. - North Carolina State and South Carolina both had four turnovers apiece and lost its starting quarterbacks to head injuries Thursday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Wolfpack's turnovers proved more self-destructing, and the injury to their quarterback was as scary as it gets on the football field.
NC State redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson was carted off the field with a concussion. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for further tests, but did give a thumbs up with his left thumb while being taken off the field on a cart.
Wilson was crushed on the play by ends Jordin Lindsey and Cliff Matthews, whose right knee hit Wilson in the head. Redshirt senior backup quarterback Daniel Evans took over for Wilson.
The injuries and turnovers proved too much for NC State to overcome. The Wolfpack lost 34-0 to the Gamecocks in the season opener for both teams. NCSU mustered 138 yards for the game.
South Carolina's defense dominated the first half, and its offense came alive against a tiring NC State defense, tacking on 21 points in the fourth quarter.
South Carolina forced two NC State turnovers in the first half, but only cracked the scoreboard because of one of them, taking a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Running back Andre Brown fumbled and a poor shot-gun snap to Evans. The latter play was recovered by South Carolina's Eric Norwood at the NC State 12-yard line.
The Gamecocks could not punch it in, and they settled for a Ryan Succop 29-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining in the half to give South Carolina the edge at halftime, 3-0.
South Carolina quarterback Tommy Beecher three first-half interceptions but NC State's offense couldn't capitalize.
NC State's Justin Byers picked off another Beecher pass in the second quarter, but with the Pack driving into South Carolina territory, Wilson was knocked out of the game.
NC State's Josh Czajkowski would miss a 49-yard field goal later in the drive.
Redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Nate Irving and redshirt freshman free safety Jimmaul Simmons joined Byers in recording their first collegiate interceptions. Irving also added eight tackles in the first half.
Beecher was also sacked three times in the first time, with NC State defensive ends Shea McKeen,Jeff Rieskamp and Willie Young each recording one. McKeen and Rieskamp both had their first sacks of their Wolfpack careers.
To start the second half, Evans threw an interception on second down to Carlos Thomas, which was returned 10 yards to the 9-yard line. On fourth and goal from the one, Mike Davis took a toss to the right and dived into the end zone, giving the Gamecocks a 10-0 lead with 12:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Succop added a 46-yard field goal with 1:15 left in the third quarter to up the Gamecocks lead to 13-0.
Gamecocks quarterback Beecher also left the game in the second half after getting tackled by both J.C. Neal and Robbie Leonard. Beecher finished 12 of 22 for 106 yards and four interceptions, plus he rushed for 25 yards on 12 carries. Last year's starter, Chris Smelley, came in to replace him.
Smelley led the Gamecocks methodically down the field with some nice running from Davis. Smelley capped off the drive with a 20-yard strike to a wide-open Dion LeCorn for a touchdown with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Davis added a 50-yard scamper to eventually set up a three-yard touchdown by Taylor Rank with 6:53 left in the game, giving South Carolina a 27-0 lead.
Tight end Jared Cook finished off the scoring with a 13-yard grab from Smelley in the fourth quarter.
Click below for the official game thread of NC State at South Carolina.