The Steve Spurrier Annual Golf Sabbatical -- also known as college football season -- began with a border war.
In a game of sloppy offenses, slightly better defense and squandered field position, South Carolina beat North Carolina 17-13, largely due to a trio of interceptions from UNC quarterback Marquise Williams and the Tar Heels' inability to do anything in the red zone.
On fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line with less than three minutes remaining, Williams threw his third interception of the game and his second to South Carolina defensive back Skai Moore in the end zone.
The game chugged along in the early going, with defense on display. North Carolina opened with a three-and-out and South Carolina's Moore made his first interception on Williams in the end zone after the Tar Heels marched down the field. But college football season only officially began on the next possession, when the Head Ball Coach decided to run a fake punt from his own 21-yard line in the first quarter.
AHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA I MISSED THIS STUPID GAME SO MUCH- OLIVER 3STACKS (@edsbs) September 3, 2015
UNC's offense was hitting an all cylinders as well. Bug Howard -- yes, his name is Bug -- caught a pass from Williams to drive the Heels down the field before capping the drive off with a 21-yard touchdown reception.
South Carolina spent much of the opening quarter flipping between Connor Mitch and wildcat quarterback Pharoh Cooper. Mitch had trouble getting a snap off early, causing a delay of game on the opening play of the game, then throwing incompletions on his first five passes.
Connor MItch may cause Steve Spurrier to move up his retirement timeline up to the second quarter.- Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 3, 2015
But Mitch improved as the game progressed and he hit Cooper on a slant on the first play of the second quarter for a touchdown, tying the game at 7-7. The half ended 13-10 after two field goals from the Tar Heels and one from the Gamecocks.
Shades of Carroll?
On the opening drive of the second half, UNC head coach Larry Fedora gambled on fourth-and-inches from his own 35. Williams was stuffed at the line, but South Carolina did nothing with the field position and punted.
UNC marched down the field to the South Carolina 21, thanks to a 44-yard run from tailback Elijah Hood. But the field position squanderfest continued after Williams tossed his second interception of the game. And all the UNC fans were like:
North Carolina fans right now... pic.twitter.com/hDOQobJWes- CBS Sports CFB (@CBSSportsCFB) September 4, 2015
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, South Carolina tailback Shon Carson took his first carry of the game 48 yards for a touchdown, giving the Gamecocks a 17-13 lead. The North Carolina safety crept toward the line, taking himself out of the play. With no one to fill the seam, Carson turned on the boasters and scooted in for six.
A three-and-out from North Carolina later, South Carolina took the field, but without Mitch. A hip injury forced him to the locker room and out of the game, as he finished with a less-than-stellar 9-for-22 passing for 122 yards and one touchdown. Without Mitch, quarterback Perry Orth continued to feed Carson. The Gamecocks made it all the way to the 11 when they, you guessed it, got nothing from the wonderful field position as UNC stuffed a sneak on fourth-and-inches.
Hood, the Tar Heel's workhorse and best player in the game, took a 27-yard run down to the South Carolina 23, but the Tar Heel coaching staff channeled their inner-Pete Carroll and pulled Hood, who finished with 138 yards on 13 carries, from the game, not letting him run it from the three-yard line. Williams was sacked, then threw his third interception of the game in the red zone, sending North Carolina home with a loss.