By Rixon Lane
The Gamecocks haven't had much luck with game-winning drives this football season.
Three times this year, South Carolina has started a drive with less than 2:30 to go and trailing by one score. All three times, the Gamecock offense, led by Dylan Thompson, has failed to come up with the necessary points to pull out the win.
But how surprising is this?
Consider this: Since the year 2001, no Gamecock quarterback has ever led a game-winning drive that began with less than 2:30 on the clock. In fact, in the last 14 seasons, South Carolina has had just four game-winning drives in the regular season that began with less than 4:00 to play.
2001: Georgia 9 South Carolina 7 - 3:17 to go
After a Derek Watson fumble led to a Georgia field goal, South Carolina trailed by two at its own 33. Two incomplete passes set up a 3rd-and-10. Senior quarterback Phil Petty found Ryan Brewer for 19 yards to the Bulldog 48. Another pair of incompletions found South Carolina facing another third down, but Petty came through again, connecting with Matthew Thomas for a 32-yard gain. Two rushes for no gain led to the third 3rd-and-10 of the drive. Under heavy pressure at the Georgia 16, Petty lofted a ball to the right corner of the end zone, where Brian Scott wrestled it away from a Bulldog cornerback for the clinching touchdown.
2001: Alabama 36 South Carolina 30 - 3:57 to go
Starting at the Gamecock 44, senior quarterback Phil Petty rushed for 12 yards on the first two plays, then connected with wide receiver Andrea Gause for a 37-yard gain. Facing 1st-and-goal from the Alabama 7, Petty found tight end Rod Trafford for the game-winning touchdown with 2:18 remaining. The touchdown catch was Trafford's first of the season and just the sixth of his career.
2004: Arkansas 32 South Carolina 28 - 3:24 to go
After blowing an 11-point fourth quarter lead, the Gamecocks had one last chance to pick up their sixth win of the season. Syvelle Newton, who had come on to replace the injured Dondrial Pinkins, rushed for 4 yards on a 3rd-and-1 to put the Gamecocks in Razorback territory. A 19-yard completion to Noah Whiteside moved the ball to the Arkansas 30 and another 15-yard pass to Whiteside put the Gamecocks in the red zone. With 1:09 on the clock, Newton found Troy Williamson for a 14-yard touchdown, making South Carolina bowl eligible for the first time since 2001.
2005: Vanderbilt 28 South Carolina 28 - 3:55 to go
The Commodores erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but South Carolina got the ball at its own 23 with just under four minutes remaining. Blake Mitchell found Kris Clark for 32 yards, then connected with Clark again for a gain of 14, moving the offense to the Vandy 31. Mike Davis rushed for 8 and Mitchell hit Sidney Rice at the Commodore 4-yard line. After a Davis run picked up a yard, Rice pulled down his third touchdown pass of the game, giving the Gamecocks the lead with 2:14 to go.