Shane Beamer’s first season in Columbia certainly didn’t lack dramatics, as the Gamecocks defied the odds on their way to a 7-6 overall record capped off with a win in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Countless moments defined what will certainly be remembered as the beginning of something special for Carolina football.
Today, we look back on the five best moments of the 2021 football season.
5. Parker White Hits The Game Winner In Greenville
We spent what felt like all summer talking about the importance of the Gamecocks week two road trip to Greenville, NC.
A ballgame that had “upset special” written all over it from the start, Carolina found a way to battle back and put themselves in position to steal the victory with just seconds remaining.
As he did so many times over the course of his career, Parker White played hero and drilled the 36 yard field goal to lift the Gamecocks to a 20-17 win and give USC a very important second win on the season.
It’s also neat that these three points helped assist White on his way to becoming the school’s all-time leader in points, breaking the record against UNC in Charlotte.
4. Carolina Clinches Bowl Eligibility At Williams-Brice
What a roller coaster ride the 2021 season was.
One week, fans were giddy at the thought of the Gamecocks prospects of going bowling in Shane Beamer’s first season.
The next week, those same folks were left scratching their heads and wondering why they ever let themselves get their hopes up in the first place.
An up and down year that saw a little bit of everything all culminated in one last magical night at Williams-Brice, as Carolina took down the Auburn Tigers for the second year in a row.
The win clinched bowl eligibility in Shane Beamer’s first season, something most national pundits felt was impossible.
Football gods finally shined on the Gamecocks as the punt was ruled to touch the Tigers players leg, sending USC fans into a frenzy and officially notching a very special sixth win.
3. Dak Joyner Makes The Most Of His Opportunity
When it comes to “player specific” moments in the 2021 season, this one takes the cake.
After his talents being completely mismanaged by the previous coaching staff, Dak Joyner had a plethora of chances to pick up his ball and go elsewhere via transfer.
Instead, he chose to stuck it out and be a Gamecock, due to his love & undying passion for the University of South Carolina.
All he did when his opportunity was called was play practically a perfect game, sparking the Carolina offense on their way to a huge victory over UNC in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Simply put, Joyner’s performance will be one fans in Columbia remember for a very, very long time.
2. Noland’s Heroics Save The Gamecocks Season
Remember my “roller coaster” reference in regards to the Gamecocks 2021 season?
The Vanderbilt game takes the cake.
Most if not all of Gamecock Nation had completely lost hope. South Carolina was staring at its first loss to Vanderbilt in over a decade and Shane Beamer’s first season going into a complete tailspin.
Starting quarterback Luke Doty struggled mightily all day, throwing two interceptions and never really finding his groove after a hot start.
With just 1:36 remaining in the game down six, a desperate Shane Beamer turned to Zeb Noland, a graduate assistant who wasn’t even on the Carolina roster back when fall camp began.
All he did was lead one of the most memorable drives in recent memory, capped off by the game-winning touchdown pass with just :37 seconds remaining.
The legend of Zeb Noland will live on for years to come thanks to his heroics that fateful night at Willy B.
1. A New Era Of Carolina Football Officially Begins
The first “2001” of the Shane Beamer era. Chills. pic.twitter.com/PQk6x2CqyV— The Spurs Up Show (@TheSpursUpShow) September 5, 2021
Hope. Optimism. Excitement.
Were there bigger games than the Gamecocks season opener against the Eastern Illinois Panthers on September 4th? Absolutely.
But it was more about what the 2021 season opener represented than anything.
This game served as a celebration of a new era of South Carolina football and the promise of a better tomorrow.
And did it ever live up to the hype. Shane Beamer’s team cruised to victory in front of a packed out Williams-Brice Stadium and set the stage for one heck of a first season.
Seeing the joy & excitement Gamecock Nation had boiled up for over 8 months in anticipation for the beginning of the Shane Beamer come to a head was truly a sight to behold.
And the best part is, we’re just getting started.