Citadel takes positives from loss to S. Carolina

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

The Citadel is hoping to build on its experience of facing South Carolina for the future.

The Bulldogs (4-7) ended their season with a 41-20 defeat to No. 14 South Carolina. And while losing always stings, the players on the Football Championship Subdivision school say they showed plenty of positive things to give them hope for next season.

''Of course, it's a building block for the program to give us something to look forward to for next year,'' Citadel running back Rickey Anderson said. ''It shows that we can come out and compete with anybody.''

Citadel came in third in FCS rushing and gained 241 yards on 54 carries. The Bulldogs moved 61 and 40 yards on two second-quarter series, both ending with Ryan Sellers' field goals and went to the half down just 20-13.

Things got out of hand in the second half when the Bulldogs' defense couldn't stop South Carolina's passing game, quarterback Connor Shaw threw three touchdown passes in the final two quarters.

''Our guys know that they were in the game and they had a chance to win it,'' Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said. ''I think they will be disappointed that they didn't make some of the plays that they could have made to win the game.''

Citadel is in its second season since returning to a triple-option offense and different defensive scheme. Higgins says it takes time to learn it all, but that the Bulldogs were much more improved on both sides of the ball this time than a year ago.

''I know these guys are going to work their tails off in the offseason and they'll come back hungry for next year,'' Higgins said.

The win earned the Gamecocks (9-2) back-to-back seasons with at least nine victories for the first time in 118 seasons of football.

Shaw threw for 217 yards. He also had 90 yards rushing, including a 60-yard TD run. Tailback Brandon Wilds ran for two touchdowns and 109 yards, his third 100-yard game in four starts since replacing the injured Marcus Lattimore.

The Gamecocks reached nine wins for just the fourth time in their history. They get a crack at win No. 10 in the regular-season showdown with No. 7 Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium next Saturday.

Coach Steve Spurrier wasn't focused on that one, yet.

''We're happy to have won it and we'll enjoy having nine wins and regroup to see if we can give Clemson a game next week,'' he said.

Alshon Jeffery had five catches for 81 yards, including a one-armed, 32-yard touchdown grab with a Citadel defender right alongside him.

Jeffery entered this game with 38 catches, 504 yards and five touchdowns. But he got a chance to shine against the FCS opponent when he reached out with his right arm to haul in the touchdown with safety Joseph Boateng right on him.

''You all may think I'm frustrated, but I'm not,'' Jeffery said. ''As long as we win, I'm cool with that.''

Jeffery's play wowed the 76,000 or so at Williams-Brice.

''It was a great throw and I just made a great catch,'' Jeffery said.

Jeffery grew up about an hour's drive from campus in St. Matthews and picked the Gamecocks after first committing to Southern California and then-coach Pete Carroll. Jeffery, though, chose to stay close to home and was part of Spurrier's first great recruiting class at South Carolina.

So it was a mix of celebration and hopefulness that led the crowd to chant, ''One More Year'' to one of the NFL draft's top projected players should Jeffery give up his senior season.

Jeffery acknowledged hearing the cheers. ''I don't have any thoughts on that,'' he said, breaking up the room in laughter.

Shaw also had touchdown passes of 25 yards to Ace Sanders and 20 yards to Rory Anderson.

Shaw said Jeffery has never shown any disappointment about the way the season has developed.

''He plays receiver to catch the ball,'' Shaw said. ''But he hasn't been frustrated, he's had a positive attitude.''

It was a satisfying victory for South Carolina, especially for the offense which had averaged just 18 points a game in its previous four games. The Gamecocks had 473 yards, nearly double Citadel's total of 249.

''We came in here and nobody blinked,'' Higgins said. ''We're able to keep ourselves in the game until the fourth quarter when it got away from us a little bit. ... We just didn't get in the end zone enough and didn't stop them enough.''

The victory improved Spurrier to 44-0 against opponents from outside the BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

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