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NCAA FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD: Recap
Recap | Box Score | This Week's Scoreboard
South Carolina 23, Mississippi St. 19
Posted: Saturday September 23, 2000 05:59 PM ET
Mississippi St.
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South Carolina
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COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- An improbable play helped South Carolina continue its improbable season.

Backup Eric Kimrey threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jermale Kelly on fourth down with 4:41 remaining as South Carolina remained unbeaten with a 23-19 victory over 25th-ranked Mississippi State in a Southeastern Conference matchup.

On the play before Kimrey's touchdown pass, the Gamecocks lost starting quarterback Phil Petty to a right ankle injury. A junior who had thrown eight passes this season, Kimrey did not have a chance to warmup.

But on 4th-and-10 from the Bulldogs' 25, Kimrey lofted a beautiful pass down the left sideline that hit Kelly in stride, giving South Carolina a 20-19 advantage. Kelly had a huge game, catching nine passes for 123 yards.

"I threw one pass. Everyone else played 70 or 80 plays," Kimrey said. "The defense played great. They kept us in the game."

"Kimrey said he could throw the fade," South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said. "I like to hear guys say he can do it. If he says he can do it, I'm all for it."

South Carolina (4-0, 2-0 SEC East), which snapped the longest losing streak in the nation at 21 games with a win in its season opener, is likely to move into the national rankings after its latest upset win. Two weeks ago, the Gamecocks shocked then-No.10 Georgia.

In his second season as coach, Lou Holtz has the Gamecocks off to their best start since they opened the 1988 campaign with six straight wins.

Mississippi State (2-1, 0-1 SEC West) was playing its first game after moving into the rankings following a pair of wins to begin the season.

"They made the plays and we didn't," Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill said. "We should have had 21 more points but didn't. Give South Carolina credit because they did a great job."

Before leaving with his injury, Petty helped put the Gamecocks in position by completing a 35-yard pass to James Adkisson that moved the ball to the Mississippi State 25. After two plays that went nowhere, Petty was hit hard by a pair of defenders on third down and came down awkwardly on his ankle.

Petty completed 19-of-40 passes for 305 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to Corey Alexander in the first quarter.

Trying to come back, the Bulldogs committed a costly miscue on special teams. Dicenzo Miller fumbled a punt and defensive tackle John Stamper pounced on the ball on the Mississippi State 20 with under three minutes left.

Reid Bethea converted that turnover into a 33-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining, capping the scoring.

Mississippi State attempted to rally in the game's final minute.

Wayne Madkin drove the Bulldogs into South Carolina territory and completed a long pass to Clarence Parker inside the 15. But Madkin was ruled to be over the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball, ending any chance for a game-winning drive.

Madkin completed 17-of-35 passes for 224 yards and an interception.

One of the top defensive teams in the country, the Bulldogs broke on top thanks to that unit in the opening quarter.

Defensive tackle Ellis Wyms drilled Derek Watson, who fumbled, and Mario Haggan picked up the ball and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Scott Westerfield missed the extra point.

Haggan's touchdown was the fourth by the Bulldogs on defense in the last two weeks. The defense accounted for three scores in last week's 44-28 victory at Brigham Young.

Watson did his best to redeem himself, returning the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. But that play was nullified when South Carolina lined up offsides.

The Gamecocks did take a 7-6 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter when Petty capped a four-play, 68-yard drive with his 58-yard TD pass to Alexander.

Mississippi State received a big play from its special teams early in the second quarter. Cornerback Julius Griffth blocked a punt and the Bulldogs took over inside the South Carolina 20.

Westerfield kicked a 23-yard field goal for a 9-7 lead.

Another big defensive play by the Bulldogs helped extend the lead. Conner Stephens recovered a fumble by Watson at the Gamecocks' 20 and Westerfield booted a 31-yard field goal.

Watson, who rushed for 422 yards and seven touchdowns in his first three games, lost a yard on 14 attempts today.

Bethea kicked an 18-yard field goal with 2:24 left before halftime to pull the Gamecocks within 12-10.

Not known for their offense, the Bulldogs used a 12-play, 93-yard drive in the third quarter, capped by an 11-yard run from Miller to open a 19-10 advantage.

Bethea's 26-yard field goal with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter got South Carolina within six.


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