Kicking and beaming

After missing 2 FGs earlier, White hits game-winner in USC's 17-16 comeback victory


COLUMBIA - Parker White heard the boos as he missed two field goals earlier in the game.

The University of South Carolina freshman placekicker, who had also missed two field goals in a 23-13 loss to Kentucky last week, heard the crowd roar, maybe somewhat derisively on the first, as he hit on both of his extra point attempts.

Then he waited patiently through two Louisiana Tech timeouts before booming a 31-yard, game-winning field goal through the uprights with four seconds left, giving the Gamecocks a 17-16 comeback victory over the Bulldogs.

USC head coach Will Muschamp, whose team ran its record to 3-1 on the season, seemed to know what was coming as evidenced by a halftime conversation he had with White.

"There's a lot of football ahead of us, and I have a lot of confidence in Parker," Muschamp said. "I told Parker at halftime, 'You're going the distance, I'm not pulling you out. We're going to put you back in there to kick the ball, and you need to make that kick. And you'll probably win the game for us.'

"It just turned out that's the way it worked out. I reminded him of it before the final kick, and he laughed. He's a confident young man."

White said Muschamp's words helped to raise his confidence level tremendously.

"When we had that conversation, my head was down a little bit because I had just missed two kicks," White said. "It wasn't going great for me at the moment, but when he said something like that, being the head coach, I immediately felt a spark ignite in me."

Trailing 13-0 after three quarters, the Gamecocks' fourth-quarter rally included a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Bentley to wide receiver OrTre Smith and a 35-yard run around left end by former Crestwood High School standout running back Ty'Son Williams.

Williams' score, along with White's kick, gave Carolina its first lead, 14-13, with 4:52 left in the game. Bentley found wide receiver Bryan Edwards for a 39-yard gain to set up the score as the 2-play drive took just 14 seconds.

In his first start as a Gamecock, Williams came up just shy of 100 yards rushing. The late scoring run gave Williams 95 yards rushing on 13 attempts and came as redemption after a fumble on his previous touch.

Williams said it was hard for him to wait on the sidelines to get back in after the fumble as running back Rico Dowdle went in for a few series.

"Especially in a game like that, I was fighting to get back in it," said Williams, who also had two receptions for 14 yards. "I hate putting my team in that position, but I was lucky enough to get in there and bounce back and make a play."

In limited action, Dowdle rushed nine times for 32 yards and caught one pass for four yards, while A.J. Turner garnered three rushes for 10 yards and caught three passes for 23 yards.

Louisiana Tech was pinned back at its 8-yard line after a penalty on the kickoff after Williams' score, but was able to drive 84 yards in 10 plays.

Facing fourth down and three yards to go at the USC 8, Bulldog head coach and former USC assistant coach Skip Holtz elected to send placekicker Jonathan Barnes out to kick a 25-yard field goal that put the visitors from Ruston, La., up 16-14 with 55 seconds left.

That turned out to be just enough time for Bentley and the South Carolina offense. After two incomplete passes from the USC 21, Bentley scrambled for 24 yards and a first down. The sophomore quarterback then hit Edwards for a 41-yard gain to the LT 14, setting up White's game-winner with four seconds on the clock.

Bentley, who is White's roommate, said he was not surprised that White nailed the game-winner.

"All week he was down after the (Kentucky) game and I told him ... you are going to have to step up and make one for us," said Bentley, who finished 22-of-34 for 295 yards with the touchdown pass to Smith and an interception. "He really rebounded in a big way this week at practice, even during the game. He kept his confidence and kept battling. He kind of epitomizes what it took for us to win. He just kept battling through adversity and found a way to get it done. That's what we did (as a team) and that's what he did at the end of the game in a big moment."

In the Gamecocks' first game since the loss of wideout and kick return specialist Deebo Samuel in a 23-13 loss to Kentucky, Bentley spread the ball around to 10 different receivers. Edwards led the way with 122 yards on six catches while Smith had his second touchdown in as many games, finishing with two catches for 36 yards.

Muschamp also announced that senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams is lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Muschamp said Allen-Williams has a redshirt season available and is expected to return to the Gamecock program next year.