A game billed as a battle of good running backs and bad defenses lived up to its billing – sort of – through one half as South Carolina has grabbed a 17-6 halftime lead over Miami in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.
The Hurricanes controlled the first 20 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 6-0 lead on a pair of short Michael Bagdley field goals. Miami moved the ball well each time, traveling 69 and 65 yards respectively, but stalled inside the 10-yard line on both occasions.
It was only a matter of time until South Carolina’s offense – and Miami’s struggling defense – showed up, and that moment came midway through the second quarter as Dylan Thompson hit Pharoh Cooper for a 78-yard touchdown pass to put the Gamecocks on top 7-6. South Carolina added to the lead with a 15-yard strike from Thompson to Mike Davis (after an earlier rushing touchdown was called back due to a holding penalty) and then a 32-yard Elliott Fry field goal with 1:39 remaining before the break. Fry missed a 58-yard try on the final play of the half.
In what could be his final game as a Hurricane, Duke Johnson has rushed 12 times for 82 yards and served as Miami’s leading receiver with five grabs for 51 yards. Brad Kaaya has struggled, completing 13-of-25 passes for 121 yards with an interception while dealing with a constant stream of pressure in his face.
Thompson has hit on 12-of-21 throws for 207 yards and two scores, with five completions for 126 yards and a score going to Cooper. Davis has rushed six times for 38 yards in addition to his 15-yard scoring grab.
South Carolina has a 270-204 overall yardage advantage.
Miami will receive the ball to open the second half.