2014 Independence Bowl final score: South Carolina beats Miami, 24-21
The Ol’ Ball Coach notched another bowl game victory.
It was far from an offensive display, but Steve Spurrier and South Carolina did enough to come away with a 24-21 victory against Miami in the Independence Bowl.
The Gamecocks were able to win the game despite not scoring a second-half point until late in the fourth quarter. Their effort was boosted by some timely big plays on defense, including a crucial fumble recovery to set up a fourth-quarter touchdown. Leading just 17-14, South Carolina forced and recovered a Duke Johnson fumble deep in Miami territory. Pharoh Cooper made an acrobatic catch soon after and the Gamecocks punctuated the drive with a 2-yard Dylan Thompson touchdown run.
Miami didn’t go down without a rebuttal, driving 72 yards for a touchdown to pull back within a field goal. South Carolina struggled to muster drives for much of the day, but moved the sticks when it needed to at the end. The Gamecocks picked up a key first down to run out the rest of the clock.
Despite the late fumble, Johnson carried the load for Miami, but his effort wasn’t enough. Neither team was able to muster much offense until the second quarter. That’s when South Carolina, down 6-0, surged into the lead with 17 unanswered points. The scoring started in a big way with Thompson finding Cooper for a 78-yard score. Cooper had a huge day for South Carolina, finishing with nine catches for 170 yards, a touchdown and this tremendous catch in the fourth quarter:
South Carolina found most of its offensive success during a seven-minute stretch in the second quarter. Not long after taking the lead on Cooper’s long touchdown, South Carolina found the endzone again with Mike Davis hauling in a 15-yard touchdown. A field goal before the half gave the 17 quick points and a double-digit lead. For Miami, Johnson finished with 132 rushing yards, but did lose the late fumble.
With the win, South Carolina finished the season 7-6 and avoided its first losing season under Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks have now won four straight bowl games. Miami finished the year 6-7, its first losing season under Al Golden. The loss was the Hurricanes’ fifth straight bowl loss, a streak stretching back to 2008.
Miami will likely return between five and eight offensive starters, depending on draft decisions, and returns just five defensive starters. South Carolina is expected to return five offensive starters and eight starters on defense.