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Mitchell earns MVP as South Carolina outlasts Houston

Dec 30, 2006 - 7:08 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Blake Mitchell wanted to make sure Steve Spurrier got his first bowl win as South Carolina's coach.

Mitchell passed for four touchdowns as the Gamecocks posted a 44-36 victory over Houston in the Liberty Bowl.

Mitchell completed 19-of-29 passes for 323 yards and one interception as South Carolina (8-5) earned its first bowl win since 2002.

"Blake has come on strong the late part of the year," Spurrier said. "We think he can be even better next year. What I think he's done best is take care of the ball."

It also was Spurrier's first bowl win since taking over the program in 2005. The veteran coach led the Gamecocks to the Independence Bowl last year but lost to Missouri, 38-31. The victory evened Spurrier's career bowl record at 7-7.

"It's a good win," Spurrier said. "Eight wins is good for us right now. We had seven last year, and we'll shoot for nine or 10 next year."

Mitchell - who was named the game's Most Valuable Player - guided the Gamecocks to 512 yards of total offense and was helped by a ground attack led by junior Cory Boyd, who gained 94 yards on 18 carries and scored twice. Boyd's first TD tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, and his second touchdown gave South Carolina a 27-21 late in the second.

"Blake is a beautiful passer," Spurrier said. "When he has guys open like he did tonight, he can really play well, and he proved that tonight. We're excited about what he can do."

Mitchell had two of his scoring tosses in the second period, when the teams combined for six touchdowns. The 6-3, 206-pound junior also threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter, both to Kenny McKinley - including a 43-yarder which put the Gamecocks up, 44-28, with 8:01 left in the period.

"It was a very satisfying win," South Carolina defensive end Jordin Lindsey said. "Blake had a great game and made a lot of big plays, and we just ended up scoring more points than they did."

McKinley had three catches for 112 yards and fellow wide receiver Sidney Rice had eight receptions for 139 yards and a TD for South Carolina, which won a game in December for the first time since 1960.

"Mitchell made some great throws and was able to make plays and find us with the ball a lot tonight," Rice said.

"We knew they were a good offense," Houston coach Art Briles said. "We knew they could make big plays. We had guys in position a lot of times, but they made some plays. You have to give them credit for making the plays."

Kevin Kolb was 26-of-39 for 386 yards and three touchdowns for Houston (10-4), which piled up 527 total yards. His 77-yard scoring pass to Vincent Marshall with 28 seconds remaining in the first half gave the Cougars a 28-27 lead.

It was the highest-scoring first half in the history of the Liberty Bowl, and the teams combined for 1,039 yards of total offense overall.

"I was surprised a little bit because I didn't think they were that kind of team that scores that much," Marshall said. "I thought they were more of a run team, and they threw a lot more than I thought they would."

Marshall caught nine passes for 201 yards and two scores and Jackie Battle rushed for 85 yards on 11 carries, including a three-yard TD run with 5:45 left to cap the scoring.

"I think we performed well as a football team," Briles said. "I think I made some calls that hurt the outcome of the game for us in a couple of instances. There were a few unforced errors that I'll take the blame for. But just like we have all year, our guys battled. We played hard."








  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    SOUTH CAROLINA 7 20 3 14 44
    HOUSTON 7 21 0 8 36 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: HOUSTON - TD, VINCENT MARSHALL 34 YD PASS
    FROM KEVIN KOLB (BEN BELL
    KICK), 2:01. HOUSTON 7-0
    SOUTH CAROLINA - TD, CORY BOYD 2 YD RUN (RYAN
    SUCCOP KICK), 12:5

    Dec 29 8:20 PM
  • 12
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 3 roots

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 8:11 PM
  • 9
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 2 roots

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 8:06 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD HOUSTON
    JACKIE BATTLE 3 YD RUN
    (ANTHONY ALRIDGE RUN FOR TWO-POINT CONVERSION)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 44
    HOUSTON 36 5:42 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 8:01 PM
  • 7
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 7 roots

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 8:01 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD SOUTH CAROLINA
    AUBREY MCKAY 43 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL
    (RYAN SUCCOP KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 44
    HOUSTON 28 7:39 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 7:52 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD SOUTH CAROLINA
    KENNY MCKINLEY 33 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL
    (RYAN SUCCOP KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 37
    HOUSTON 28 12:15 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 7:40 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    SOUTH CAROLINA 7 20 3 30
    HOUSTON 7 21 0 28 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: HOUSTON - TD, VINCENT MARSHALL 34 YD PASS
    FROM KEVIN KOLB (BEN BELL
    KICK), 2:01. HOUSTON 7-0
    SOUTH CAROLINA - TD, CORY BOYD 2 YD RUN (RYAN
    SUCCOP KI

    Dec 29 7:29 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    FG SOUTH CAROLINA
    RYAN SUCCOP 45 YD
    SOUTH CAROLINA 30
    HOUSTON 28 9:55 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 6:57 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    SOUTH CAROLINA 7 20 27
    HOUSTON 7 21 28 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: HOUSTON - TD, VINCENT MARSHALL 34 YD PASS
    FROM KEVIN KOLB (BEN BELL
    KICK), 2:01. HOUSTON 7-0
    SOUTH CAROLINA - TD, CORY BOYD 2 YD RUN (RYAN
    SUCCOP KICK),

    Dec 29 6:24 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD HOUSTON
    VINCENT MARSHALL 77 YD PASS FROM KEVIN KOLB
    (BEN BELL KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 27
    HOUSTON 28 0:11 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 6:22 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF SOUTH CAROLINA 27
    HOUSTON 21 0:42 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 6:20 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD HOUSTON
    JACKIE BATTLE 42 YD RUN
    (BEN BELL KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 20
    HOUSTON 21 2:09 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 6:11 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD SOUTH CAROLINA
    CURTIS RICE 19 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL
    (RYAN SUCCOP KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 20
    HOUSTON 14 2:53 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 6:06 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD HOUSTON
    MARK HAFNER 4 YD PASS FROM KEVIN KOLB
    (BEN BELL KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 13
    HOUSTON 14 6:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 5:51 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD SOUTH CAROLINA
    ROBERT PAVLOVIC 1 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL
    (PAT FAILED)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 13
    HOUSTON 7 10:47 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 5:36 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    SOUTH CAROLINA 7 7
    HOUSTON 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: HOUSTON - TD, VINCENT MARSHALL 34 YD PASS
    FROM KEVIN KOLB (BEN BELL
    KICK), 2:01. HOUSTON 7-0
    SOUTH CAROLINA - TD, CORY BOYD 2 YD RUN (RYAN
    SUCCOP KI

    Dec 29 5:21 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD SOUTH CAROLINA
    CORY BOYD 2 YD RUN
    (RYAN SUCCOP KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 7
    HOUSTON 7 2:09 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 5:16 PM


  • LIBERTY BOWL
    AT MEMPHIS TN
    NCAAF LIBERTY BOWL
    TD HOUSTON
    VINCENT MARSHALL 34 YD PASS FROM KEVIN KOLB
    (BEN BELL KICK)
    SOUTH CAROLINA 0
    HOUSTON 7 12:59 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    South Carolina vs. HoustonDec 29 4:48 PM