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  • Connor Lomis

Horn's Big Day Leads Gamecock Football to Upset over #15 Auburn

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Connor Lomis | @ConnorLomis

Shi Smith leaps up to make a one-handed grab as South Carolina knocked off Auburn 30-22. Photo Credits: South Carolina Athletics

Coaches often preach about the importance of playing a full sixty minutes. The Gamecocks needed their defense to make plays until the final whistle as they defeated the fifteenth-ranked Auburn Tigers today for the first time since 1933. 

South Carolina overcame an early deficit and made a number of clutch plays to pick up the win this afternoon. This was the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent since they shocked the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs almost exactly a year ago. 

“That was a hell of a win,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. “[Our team] kept hanging in there regardless of the situation. We needed to win a game like this.”

The Tigers attacked early and got out to a 9-0 lead as the Gamecocks offense got off to a slow start with back-to-back three and outs. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix looked sharp early pulling the Tigers out, but the Auburn offense would begin to fall victim to an opportunistic Gamecocks defense.

On the first play of the second quarter Gamecocks cornerback Jaycee Horn picked off Nix for his first career interception, which injected life into an otherwise sluggish Gamecock team. The offense followed with a three-yard touchdown rush by Kevin Harris narrow Auburn’s lead to two. 

Nix responded on the next series with a 44-yard bomb to Seth Williams, which set up a field goal for Auburn. The teams exchanged scores on the next few drives, but Auburn remained in the lead into the third quarter. 

The tides would turn dramatically from this point as Collin Hill threw a touchdown to Shi Smith, who made an unbelievable catch in the corner of the end zone to give South Carolina its first lead of the afternoon. After a quiet game against Vanderbilt last week, the Gamecock’s top receiver finished with eight catches for 76 cards and that touchdown. 

A few drives later, Horn hauled in his second pick and nearly returned it for six. Harris punched in his second score of the day on a 5-yard touchdown run pushing the Gamecocks lead to 27-19.

Horn finished the day with four pass breakups to go along with his two interceptions. He also held the typically explosive Williams to only four catches and 74 yards.

“If there’s a better corner out there, I want to see him,” Muschamp said of Horn.

The teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, and Auburn was able to force South Carolina to punt with just over two minutes left to give themselves one final chance to tie the game. Nix led the Tigers down to the 12-yard line with nine seconds left. However, the Gamecocks defense stiffened and stopped Nix short of the first down marker as time expired to secure the victory. 

South Carolina improves to 2-2 on the season as they head into next weekend’s matchup against LSU. The Gamecocks have a chance to get a winning record for the first time since 2018 when they travel to Baton Rouge for a 7 p.m. kickoff next week against the reigning champions

Tom Santaniello contributed to this report.

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