COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina opened strong with 17 points in the first six minutes and then held on to defeat Texas A&M 30-24 on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (5-2, 2-2 SEC) returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and turned a fumble and interception deep in Aggies territory into 10 more points and a 17-0 hole for Texas A&M (3-4, 1-3) just over five minutes in.
It’s the first time the Gamecocks have beaten the Aggies since the SEC made them their Western Division rival in 2014.
“We can’t start off on the road like that, like we did,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said.
MarShawn Lloyd ran 18 times for 92 yards and had both of South Carolina’s touchdowns in the second half to keep Texas A&M from climbing back into it.
Spencer Rattler was 12-of-25 passing for 168 yards for South Carolina, which has won four games in a row for the first time since winning six straight to finish the 2013 season.
“A month ago, I was asked if this team quit,” Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer said. “That look like this team’s quit? We’ve won four straight.”
Devon Achane ran 20 times for 99 yards for the Aggies. Haynes King was 17-of-32 passing for 178 yards, with a touchdown and an interception before leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Conner Weigman filled in and went 8-of-15 through the air for 91 yards but neither of his two final Hail Mary tries made it to the end zone after Texas A&M recovered an onside kick at midfield with nine seconds left.
The loss puts even more pressure on Fisher, whose team started the season ranked No. 6. With a contract through 2031 paying him $9 million a year, his job likely isn’t in jeopardy.
However, losing to South Carolina has been bad for several SEC coaches. Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee in 2008, Will Muschamp in 2014 and Dan Mullen in 2021 all lost their jobs shortly after losing to the Gamecocks.
“We battled back, we played really good, we had some consistency,” Fisher said. “We had some good drives, we moved the football well. … But we just couldn’t make that one more play, that one more drive to get us there.”
More and more, it’s looking like the Aggies are in for a struggle just to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. A win over UMass is probable. After that, the Aggies need two victories out of four games — Ole Miss, Florida, at Auburn and at LSU.
“We just have to keep our poise and go play,” Fisher said. “Get your confidence back. … We just have to be more consistent with what we’re trying to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.