TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Derek Watson's loss was Ryan Brewer's
gain. Getting an opportunity for increased playing time with the
suspension of Watson, the Ohio native almost single-handidly helped
South Carolina cap its turnaround season with a 24-7 victory over No. 18
Ohio State in the Outback Bowl. A 1,000-yard rusher, Watson was
suspended for the game by South Carolina coach Lou Holtz for an
unspecified violation of team rules. Brewer, who was recruited by Ohio
State, filled in more than capably, accounting for 219 all-purpose yards
and scoring all three South Carolina touchdowns. He rushed for a
seven-yard TD early in the third quarter, caught a 28-yard TD pass 43
seconds into the fourth period and ran for a two-yard score with six
"I had no trouble getting up for this game," Brewer said. "Maybe I was
too pumped up. Coach Holtz found a way to calm me down. I dropped a ball
in warm-ups and he came over and talked to me. He said, “Don't play this
game against Ohio State for yourself, play it for the team.” The 5-10,
205-pound sophomore, a former Mr. Ohio, burned his home state team by
rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries and catching three passes for 92
yards. He also had two punt returns for 18 yards. "I had just gotten the
(South Carolina) job and got a message that Mr. Ohio wanted to visit
South Carolina," Holtz said of Brewer. "He's a good football player and
I've told him that he could play at Ohio State, Michigan or for me at
Notre Dame." In their second year under Holtz, the Gamecocks (8-4) shook
off a season-ending three-game losing streak to reach eight wins for the
first time since 1988. South Carolina entered the campaign with a
21-game losing streak.
Holtz has become immensely popular in Columbia, signing a lucrative
contract extension during the season. The win was a milestone of sorts
for Holtz, who has taken all six teams he has coached to a bowl game in
his second season at the helm (audio).
Holtz, who captured a national championship at Notre Dame following the
1988 season, defeated Ohio State for the first time in five meetings.
"The game bowl is going to the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame in East Liverpool,
Ohio," Holtz said. "It was very special, very special for the players.'
South Carolina earned its first bowl victory since defeating West
Virginia, 24-21, in the 1995 Carquest Bowl.
"We'll be a better football team next year," South Carolina quarterback
Phil Petty said. "This win was good for the seniors and we won't be a
surprise next year. We finished with an 8-4 record and a bowl victory."
Ohio State coach John Cooper, who has been frequently criticized by
Buckeyes' fans, will not receive as favorable a welcome. The Buckeyes
(8-4) were disappointed they did not get a berth in the Rose Bowl and
seemed disinterested throughout most of Monday's contest. "First, I want
to congratulate Ryan Brewer," Cooper said. "He's a great ballplayer and
I'm very happy for where he is now. I congratulate him, coach Holtz and
the South Carolina team for a great game." "He (Cooper) was just being
gracious and respectful," Brewer added. "It meant a lot to me. I respect
that man the (Ohio State) team."
The first half was a defensive struggle, with South Carolina managing
only a 3-0 lead on Jason Corse's 23-yard field goal with 12:48 remaining
in the second period. But South Carolina's stingy defense continued to
dominate as the Gamecocks converted three Ohio State turnovers into a
pair of touchdowns during a 21-point second half. South Carolina did
most its damage on the ground, rushing for 218 yards on 51 carries.
Petty completed 9-of-19 passes for 175 yards with an interception.
Ohio State was held to 258 yards, including just 85 on the ground.
Facing constant pressure, Steve Bellisari connected on 14-of-25 for 157
yards with an interception. The Buckeyes had a chance to tie it at
halftime but Dan Stultz missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired.
South Carolina forced a turnover on Ohio State's first possession of the
second half as linebacker Kalimba Edwards jarred the ball loose after
sacking Bellisari. Tackle Cleveland Pinkney recovered the fumble at the
Buckeyes 28. Seven plays later, Brewer scored around right end, giving
South Carolina a 10-0 lead with 10:53 left in the third quarter. Ohio
State finally got a big play as Ken-Yon Rambo's 62-yard reception gave
the Buckeyes a 1st-and-goal at the 1. Mike Gurr recovered Jonathan
Wells' fumble in the end zone to pull the Buckeyes within 10-7 with 4:51
left in the period. But South Carolina put it away with a pair of scores
in the final quarter. After Petty and Brewer combined for a 28-yard TD
on a screen pass, the first of DeAndre Eiland's two interceptions set up
Brewer's final score.
USC- FG Corse 23
USC- Brewer 7 run (Corse kick)
OSU- Gurr recovered fumble in end zone (D Stultz kick)
USC- Brewer 28 pass from Petty (Corse kick)
USC- Brewer 2 run (Corse kick)
USC- Brewer 19-109, Pinnock 11-33, Smith 7-33, Petty 7-23
OSU- Wells 14-52, Combs 8-25
USC- Petty 9-19-175
OSU- Bellisari 14-25-157, Krenzel 2-3-16
USC- Brewer 3-92, Kelly 3-43, Scott 3-40
OSU- Sanders 5-47, Rambo 2-65, Westbrooks 2-22