USC FOOTBALL

Scarnecchia makes most of long-awaited opportunity

BY DANNY KELLY
danny@theitem.com
Posted 10/7/18

COLUMBIA - It took Michael Scarnecchia almost midway through his senior redshirt season to get an opportunity to start at quarterback for the University of South Carolina football team. It came on Saturday against Missouri and Scarnecchia certainly …

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USC FOOTBALL

Scarnecchia makes most of long-awaited opportunity

Posted

COLUMBIA - It took Michael Scarnecchia almost midway through his senior redshirt season to get an opportunity to start at quarterback for the University of South Carolina football team. It came on Saturday against Missouri and Scarnecchia certainly made the most of it.

He completed 20 of 35 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns and led the Gamecocks on a last-minute drive to set up a 33-yard, game-winning field goal by Parker White with two seconds left for a 37-35 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I was not nervous; I felt confident in my abilities and how the coaches prepared me and the rest of the team, so I felt good with my game plan and everything," Scarnecchia said. "*(Normal starting QB) Jake (Bentley) was getting reps this week and I was getting reps this week. it was just being ready because you never know what is going to happen. When it came to the (starting quarterback) decision, I was ready."

Scarnecchia made his first career start after Bentley went down with a knee sprain in USC's 24-10 loss to Kentucky last Saturday. Bentley was cleared to play against Missouri, but head coach Will Muschamp decided to go with Scarnecchia because he didn't feel Bentley could protect himself.

"We've always had confidence in Mike," Muschamp said. "He's never been asked to do it in that stage, and he performed extremely well. In terms of being a first-time starter and under that weather (a heavy rainstorm and a 1-hour plus lightning delay occurred in the second half), that's a pretty daunting task. He did a fantastic job in converting some critical third downs, especially in the second half. (I'm) extremely proud of him."

Bentley helped Scarnecchia out when he needed it before and during the game.

"Jake just said he's going to be there for me and help me in any way he can and be the best teammate," Scarnecchia said on Bentley's pregame message to him. "He did that exact thing. He was helping me out with seeing reads that I might have missed on the field and stuff that was going on. He was just helping me stay calm through it all."

Scarnecchia's first touchdown pass came with 11:02 left in the first quarter to junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards for five yards.

Scarnecchia found Edwards in the end zone again with 12:57 to go before halftime, this time for a 17-yard touchdown.

"I felt like we (he and Scarnecchia) had some pretty good chemistry today," Edwards said. "We completed passes and whoever is in at quarterback, in the receiver room, we expect to make plays and make the catch no matter where he puts it. Just give us the opportunity."

Scarnecchia's third and final touchdown pass was an eight-yard strike to senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel with 9:34 to go in the third quarter.

"Mike's the same all of the time - extremely bright, extremely intelligent, always seems to be in a good mood," Muschamp said. "He's upbeat and he handled the moment extremely well."