COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Freshman Jake Bentley threw for two touchdowns and 201 yards in his first college game and South Carolina matched its victory total from last year with a 34-28 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was expecting to redshirt Bentley this season before the team’s mounting offensive problems – they entered dead last in points per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision – left the first-year coach open to any solution.
Bentley proved the right answer against the Minutemen (1-7). He led the Gamecocks (3-4) to touchdowns on their first two series, and then threw a pair of pretty fade passes for TD, the first from 16 yards out to K.C. Crosby and later a 24-yarder to Bryan Edwards to lead 27-7.
When UMass cut things to 34-28 with less than 5 minutes left, Bentley accounted for 30 yards to help the Gamecocks run out the clock.
It was the first time South Carolina had scored more than 20 points in a game this season.
UMass did its share to help with three turnovers in the opening half, two which led to two South Carolina scores.
Tight end Adam Breneman had two TD catches for Massachusetts, which fell to 0-3 against Southeastern Conference teams this fall.
MASSACHUSETTS: UMass has been outscored 131-77 in its four games this season against teams from the Power 5 conferences.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Its future – and offensive recovery – may have started with Bentley behind center. The freshman, who’ll turn 19 next month, is sure to have some bumps ahead, maybe as soon as next week’s home game against No. 18 Tennessee. But there was little benefit keeping the strong-armed Bentley on the bench if he could spark up the offense this season.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Minutemen return home to play Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wagner. The game ends the UMass home season as it finishes with games at Troy, BYU and Hawaii.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks go back to the Southeastern Conference grinder against No. 18 Tennessee. The Gamecocks have only won two SEC games the past two seasons and will face a difficult challenge against the Vols, who are in the thick of the Eastern Division chase.