South Carolina evened its all-time Independence Bowl record at 1-1 as the Gamecocks won a nail-biter against Miami, 24-21, in the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl.
The Gamecocks (7-6) racked up nearly 300 yards through the air, led by sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. He earned offensive MVP honors with 170 yards receiving, the fifth-most in bowl history, while his nine catches are tied for fifth in the Independence Bowl record book.
“Oh, he can make plays now,” head coach Steve Spurrier said of Cooper. “We know he’s a playmaker. We couldn’t spring him on any runs out of the backfield. I don’t know what our yards per carry were, but they weren’t very good. We did make some passing yards and our defense did a good job making a whole bunch of tackles.”
Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson completed 22-34 passes for 294 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 64.7 completion percentage is fourth-best in Bowl history.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Skai Moore led the way with 11 tackles, including 0.5 for loss, on his way to being named defensive MVP.
For Miami (6-7), junior running back Duke Johnson put on an impressive performance against the Gamecocks, rushing for 132 yards on 24 carries. He also led the Hurricanes in receiving with five catches for 51 yards. His 183 yards from scrimmage are sixth-most in Bowl history.
True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya completed 19-33 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“We had good focus and good practices,” Miami head coach Al Golden said. “A lot of the younger guys here brought that energy you’re talking about. We had a lot of guys play here tonight. We didn’t play well enough to win but we played hard.”
With the three-point South Carolina victory, 11 of the past 16 Independence Bowl contests have been decided by seven points or fewer.
–Stefan Nolet, Duck Commander Independence Bowl