S. Carolina 55, E. Tennessee St. 7
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Freshman Brandon Bennett rushed for a school-record 278 yards and three touchdowns as South Carolina whipped East Tennessee State 55-7 Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Bennett, who had gained 182 yards coming into the game, broke the record of 260 yards set by Jeff Grantz in 1973 against Ohio.
Bennett, who carried the ball 31 times, scored on runs of 12, 89 and 1 yards as South Carolina ran its record to 2-2-1.
The Gamecocks got plenty of help from the Division I-AA Buccaneers, who had five first-half turnovers. South Carolina converted four into touchdowns to take a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Eric Brown picked off one pass and recovered a fumble to lead the Gamecocks defense, which came into the game ranked 82nd out of 106 I-A schools.
South Carolina came up with two more interceptions and also blocked a punt in the first 30 minutes against the Buccaneers (1-4).
The Gamecocks were far from perfect. They fumbled on their first possession, and had a field goal and extra point blocked. But those errors only kept the score from being worse before a homecoming crowd of 55,582 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Bennett showed the way early and often for the Gamecocks. After fumbling at the Buccaneers’ 29-yard line on his third carry, Bennett gave the Gamecocks a 7-0 lead with a 12-yard run with 7:29 left in the opening period.
Brown then recovered a bad pitch by Mark Williams at East Tennessee State’s 25. It took the Gamecocks just 8 seconds to score when Albert Haynes raced 25 yards untouched into the end zone.
Bennett, who bulled over two defenders near the goal line on his first TD, showed off his 4.4 speed on his next scoring run. On third-and-one at the Gamecocks’ 11, Bennett was stopped short of the first down before he bounced outside, then sprinted down the left sideline untouched to make it 21-0.
With that run, the rout was on. Haynes scored on a 1-yard run and Bobby Fuller hit David Pitchko with a 10-yard TD pass in the second period. Wright Mitchell ran 8 yards in the third period to make it 41-0 before the Buccaneers got on the board.
Williams hit Robert Robinson for a 33-yard TD pass with 8:20 left in the third period to avoid the shutout.
After Bennett’s 1-yard run 43 seconds into the final period, Tony Watkins returned an interception 54 yards for the final points.
The 55 points were the most by South Carolina since a 58-10 victory over Virginia in 1987.