(Photo courtesy of South Carolina Athletic Department)
If you thought the Tennessee game was wild, most Gamecocks fans can remember it was only a month earlier that we had an even crazier finish.
When we played Louisiana Tech, our offense didn't score a single point for the first three quarters. We were at home and favored to win, but we couldn't do anything offensively for 45 minutes. But one thing I learned from the Bible is that testing your faith produces perseverance, and that's one thing I always try to look back upon when I'm struggling. That doesn't necessarily mean my faith in God ever goes away, but when my belief in my own abilities is tested, I recognize it's building me for something better.
That was never more apparent than in the final quarter of that game.
I connected with my teammate OrTre Smith on a touchdown pass with 11 minutes to go that brought us within 13-7, and then with 4:52 left our running back Ty'Son Williams broke free for a 35-yard run to put us up 14-13. That's when things really got crazy.
LA Tech drove down the field and kicked a field goal with 55 seconds to go, putting them back up 16-14. But there was no quit in our team. Even when we started the drive with two incomplete passes, and we had a 3rd & 10 at our own 21 yard line with 36 seconds left, I still believed we could win.
We really needed to sling the ball downfield, but on that play I did something nobody expected: I tucked the ball and ran. I saw plenty of grass in front of me, and after my 24-yard run we were now at our 45-yard line.
Now there was just 26 seconds to go and by the time the officials set the ball on the field, the clock began to roll again. Tick. Tick. Tick.
We snapped it with 21 seconds to go, and I just heaved the ball downfield. There were two defenders in the area, and one of the cornerbacks actually deflected the ball, but there for the catch was my teammate Bryan Edwards.
The crowd went absolutely crazy.
We sprinted toward the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball with seven seconds to go. Now the stage was set for my teammate Parker White, who hadn't made a field goal the first three games. He was 0-4 at that point, but we all believed in him. We knew he could make that field goal.
God is the same way. No matter what we've done in our life, he never gives up on us either.
Of course, that didn’t mean the field goal was any guarantee. It was a 31-yard kick and as loud at the stadium was when Bryan caught it, it was now completely silent when Parker stepped up for his field goal. And just like we had seen him do it in practice, Parker nailed it.
We won that game, as well as the Tennessee game, and finished 6-1 in one-score games last year. That just shows the belief we have in each other.
We don't know what this season holds in store for us, but I do know one thing...we are closer as a team now than we've ever been before. I think I can say the same about my relationship with God.