The Citadel shocks South Carolina with late rally, pulls road upset

A rough season got worse on Saturday for South Carolina as it was upset by The Citadel 23-22 on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Here’s the rundown:

What the win means for The Citadel: This is a huge win for coach Mike Houston and the Bulldogs. Not only is it a win against an SEC team, the Bulldogs (8-3) are now hunting for a spot in the FCS playoffs via an at-large bid. This win will certainly help their case, going on the road to beat South Carolina. The Citadel had lost 27 straight games vs. FBS opponents, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It was the Bulldogs’ first win against South Carolina since 1990.

What the loss means for South Carolina: The Gamecocks (3-8) didn’t have anything tangible to play for -- they can’t reach bowl eligibility -- but this loss is embarrassing for them. It’s been a rough year, made even worse by losing to an FCS team at home. The defense struggled, the offense couldn’t find the end zone enough, and it was just an all-around bad day for the Gamecocks. Certainly, interim coach Shawn Elliott didn't envision this when he took over for Steve Spurrier, who resigned earlier this season.

Player of the game: Tyler Renew. It was quite a homecoming for The Citadel running back. Renew, a Columbia, South Carolina, native exploded in his return home, rushing for a game-high 174 yards on 23 carries. He ran for two touchdowns, including a 56-yarder with 6:07 left that turned out to be the game winner for the Bulldogs.

How the game was won: The Citadel used its triple-option offense to near perfection. It rolled to 190 first-half rushing yards and 350 for the game. South Carolina trailed 14-3 in the first quarter but inched its way back in the game and took a 16-14 lead with 6:22 in the third quarter. From then on the points piled up with The Citadel retaking the lead on a 48-yard Eric Goins field goal and the Gamecocks responding with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Perry Orth to Pharoh Cooper.

The key plays came in the fourth quarter, with Renew’s 56-yard touchdown run that gave the Bulldogs the lead. Then with 4:07 left and South Carolina facing a fourth-and-1 at The Citadel 46, trailing by a point, the Gamecocks went for it and were stuffed, turning it over on downs.

Uh, what? South Carolina looked like it might escape with the win when Orth found Cooper for what would have been a 94-yard touchdown pass in the game’s final minute, but the play was blown dead because of a false start penalty. Upon further review, was it really a false start? On the next play, the Gamecocks turned it over on downs.