Three keys to victory for UVA in the Belk Bowl
- Author: Steve Townsend Dec 31, 2018,
Dec 31, 2018, 4:05
Coach Will Muschamp said he was "disappointed" in the team's performance, adding, "We didn't put on a good show and that's on me".
The Gamecocks are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
South Carolina, in a losing effort, posted 600 yards of offense on No. 2 Clemson in the regular season as Bentley threw for 510 yards.
SC (7-5) finished fourth in the SEC East this season, and all five of their losses were to bowl teams now ranked in the top 25. Gamecocks eclipsed 500 yards of offense in five games this season. Their history goes back to the 1945 Gator Bowl.
SC has a veteran quarterback with Jake Bentley, but they are going to miss their most explosive player in Deebo Samuel. Sophomore placekicker Brian Delaney's extra point was true to put Virginia up 7-0 with 3:30 to go in the first.
"This is the first step toward making big strides", Perkins said. "They were a great football team".
"We tried to contain him in the pocket a lot, so we tried not to rush upfield too much", senior defensive lineman Bryson Allen-Williams said.
After the defense forced a turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter, SC was, if only technically, still alive. Jordan Ellis led UVA on the ground with 106 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
For the second straight year, Virginia fans traveled to see the Wahoos play postseason football. "Even when I might not make a play or he might not make a play, it's like, 'Who wants it on the next play?' We're the same that way".
"I wish I had another year, because next year is going to be better than this year", Zaccheaus said.
Virginia's Olamide Zaccheaus (4) celebrates his touchdown catch. If Virginia can go on long scoring drives and force a few three-and-outs, a exhausted SC defense could wilt in the second half.
However, the Gamecocks would give it right back when senior strong safety Juan Thornhill picked off Bentley and returned it 54 yards to the SC 21-yard-line on his sixth interception of the season. He finished the day with 12 receptions for 100 yards and three touchdowns, just shy of 2002 MVP Wali Lundy's Belk Bowl record of number of touchdowns and points-four and 24 respectively.
Bentley said the team will miss Samuel's experience but expects wide receivers Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith to take on bigger roles against a Cavaliers defense that allows just 211.9 yards per game through the air.
"That was buried the minute we came back and got to work in January", Mendenhall said.