Work in Sports
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Lou Holtz said he would personally tear down the goalposts if his team defeated Arkansas. But the victory was so easy, the South Carolina fans didn't see the need.
Phil Petty threw a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes to begin a 27-point onslaught as the 24th-ranked Gamecocks became bowl eligible with a 27-7 Southeastern Conference victory over the Razorbacks.
Andrew Pinnock and Derek Watson ran for touchdowns in the third quarter, Watson's 68-yard scoring scamper giving South Carolina (6-1, 4-1 SEC East) a commanding 27-0 lead with 18 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Gamecocks, who went winless last season, are now eligible to play in their first bowl game since 1995 because they have six victories over Division I-A opponents. It's a good thing, too, because they have just one home game left and close the season with road games at No. 9 Florida and fourth-ranked Clemson.
"Now we are looking at the conference race," Holtz said. "We are not in the driver's seat, but we are least in the car."
Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 West), which was beginning a stretch in which it will play four of five games away from Fayetteville, had won two straight over South Carolina but still holds a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series.
After a scoreless first quarter, a 58-second span early in the second belonged to Petty and Brian Scott. With 14:46 to play in the quarter, South Carolina began at its own 33-yard line and the duo hooked up on consecutive pass plays of 18, 26 and 23 yards, the third hookup resulting in a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Arkansas picked up one first down on the ensuing possession but was forced to punt, and the Gamecocks began the same way as Petty hit Scott for a 19-yard gain to the Arkansas 44. Four plays later it was Petty to Jermale Kelly for a 13-yard score.
"It feels great to be bowl-eligible, but we still want to continue to get better," Kelly said. "This was a special game for coach Holtz, and we wanted to win it for him."
Reid Bethea's extra point failed, but the Gamecocks had a 13-0 lead and were in control.
Petty completed 12-of-21 passes for 170 yards with one interception, while Scott had four catches for 86 yards.
"Phil Petty understands the offense much better. South Carolina has a great package there," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said.
Pinnock pushed the lead to 20-0 with a 13-yard touchdown run 6 1/2 minutes into the third quarter, and five minutes later Watson, who rushed for 136 yards on 17 carries, broke free for his long scoring run.
Arkansas' only points came on Brandon Holmes' nine-yard run 5 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter.
Robby Hampton was 12-of-25 for 61 yards and Zak Clark completed 7-of-12 attempts for 79 yards for the Razorbacks. Each threw an interception.