COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach turned quarterback Zeb Noland threw for four touchdowns on 13 completions as the Gamecocks beat Eastern Illinois 46-0 on Saturday night.
It was the debut for South Carolina coach Shane Beamer. He promised “Beamer Ball” just like his dad Frank Beamer played at Virginia Tech and his team delivered, holding the Panthers (0-2) to 109 yards and getting its first shutout in 13 years,
The Gamecocks version of Beamer Ball blocked two punts, picked off two passes with one going back for a 61-yard touchdown, ran a successful two-point trick play with the kicking team on the field after their first touchdown, converted all three fourth downs it tried including a fourth-and-goal from the 3, had two sacks and hit hard.
Beamer, 44, brought joy and enthusiasm to a team that had lost six in a row and 11 of its past 14 games — at least for a night and against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
Beamer won his opener with an unusual quarterback. Noland came to Columbia this spring to be a graduate assistant after playing seven games for North Dakota State in a season delayed to spring 2021 because of COVID-19.
When expected South Carolina starter Luke Doty sprained his foot in fall practice and couldn’t play in the opener, Beamer asked Noland to turn in his whistle and grab pads and a helmet.
Noland was 13-for-22 for 121 yards and four touchdowns. He threw for five TDs last season at North Dakota State.
South Carolina ran for 263 yards. ZaQuandre White had 12 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown and also led the Gamecocks with four catches, including a 10-yard touchdown that made it 29-0 just before halftime.
Chris Katrenick was 13-for-22 for 78 yards and Tyler Hamilton caught five passes for 32 yards for Eastern Illinois.
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers fall to 6-37 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams and last beat one in 2016 with a 21-17 win over Miami of Ohio. They drop to 0-2 against Southeastern Conference teams.
South Carolina: One way the Gamecocks didn’t look like Beamer Ball were all the flags. South Carolina was penalized eight times for 61 yards, including a holding call that nullified a 65-yard-touchdown run and an offside call that eliminated an interception.
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers travel to Dayton next Saturday in their ninth game in 2021. Eastern Illinois went 1-5 this spring after the 2020 season was delayed by COVID-19 and lost this season’s opener 26-21 to Indiana State.
South Carolina; The Gamecocks head to East Carolina. South Carolina has won the last four over the Pirates, but East Carolina was 5-3 in the occasional series in the 1990s.
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