South Carolina beats Akron 28-3 in messy makeup game

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              South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel (1) celebrates his third touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Akron Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Deebo Samuel figured out another way to score a touchdown as he wrapped up his injury-cursed career at South Carolina in a rainy, messy makeup game.

Samuel recovered a bad snap on a punt in the end zone and caught two touchdown passes as the Gamecocks (7-5) beat Akron 28-3 on Saturday.

South Carolina was playing a low-stakes game on a wet, cold December afternoon to make up for one canceled by Hurricane Florence against the Zips (4-8), whose opener at Nebraska was cancelled by thunderstorms.

It was sloppy. South Carolina had four turnovers — two of them red zone interceptions by Jake Bentley — and Akron had six fumbles, losing three of them. In 17 second-half drives, 10 ended in punts, four ended on downs, two ended in lost fumbles and the last one ended at the final gun.

“We didn’t play well in the second half,” Bentley said. “I’m disappointed.”

Bentley was 14 of 27 for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Mon Denson ran 17 times for 110 yards and Bryan Edwards caught five passes for 109 yards and a TD for South Carolina.

Samuel put this game away on his own. His fumble recovery on a high snap on an Akron punt put the Gamecocks up 21-3 and his 5-yard TD catch with 1:33 to go in the second quarter put South Carolina ahead 28-3. Samuel has 16 TDs receiving, seven rushing, four on kick returns and one on a fumble recovery in his career. He also has thrown two passes in college — both for touchdowns

“I just go out there and do what they ask me to do,” the senior said.

Samuel missed games his freshman year with hamstring problems and broke his leg in his third game of 2017 after scoring six touchdowns.

“When he’s been on the field, he’s been as electric player as you will see in college football,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.

When the Gamecocks and Zips originally agreed to play this one Nov. 2, there was a good chance both teams would be playing for bowl eligibility. But South Carolina pulled off a Southeastern Conference win over Ole Miss and Football Championship Subdivision Chattanooga to get to six wins and Akron lost its last three to stay stuck at four victories.

The announced attendance was 53,420 people — the actual crowd was much smaller — and it was the lowest attendance for a South Carolina game since 52,400 were counted in October 1991 when Louisiana Tech came to town.

“I appreciate the fans who did come,” Bentley said. “We could definitely hear them.”

Kato Nelson was 19 for 39 for 178 yards. Kwad Smith caught six passes for 69 yards for the Zips. Nick Gasser’s 45-yard field goal gave Akron its only points.

The Zips were going after their second Power Five win. Akron beat Big Ten West Division champion Northwestern 39-34 on Sept. 15.