CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer anticipated getting a bucket of mayonnaise dumped over his head would be awful.
And yet, it was worse than he could have imagined.
Beamer got hit in the back of the head by the cooler before 4 1/2 gallons of mayo cascaded over his face and down his shirt, capping the Gamecocks’ celebration after their 38-21 victory over North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Thursday.
“I got hammered in the back of the head from the cooler — and then came the mayo,” Beamer said. “I may have a concussion. It was awful.”
He changed his shirt for the postgame news conference, but joked, “I still have mayo in my pockets.”
But, for Beamer, it was all worth it to cap the season with a bowl win.
Jaheim Bell had five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns for South Carolina (7-6), which rebounded nicely after it lost 30-0 to Clemson in its regular-season finale on Nov. 27. Kevin Harris added 169 yards rushing and a score.
Bell, a sophomore tight end, got free for a 69-yard touchdown reception from converted wide receiver Dakereon Joyner and hauled in a 66-yard TD catch from former graduate assistant coach Zeb Noland on South Carolina’s first two possessions. Juju McDowell added a 35-yard TD run in the second quarter as South Carolina averaged 11.6 yards per play while opening a 25-13 halftime lead.
“Everyone on offense was locked in and keyed into the details,” Bell said.
Sam Howell threw for 205 yards and a touchdown, and reserve running back British Brooks had a bowl record 63-yard touchdown run for the Tar Heels (6-7).
South Carolina rushed for 301 yards, despite Tar Heels coach Mack Brown saying North Carolina’s game plan was to stop the run.
“You’re not going to win football games like that,” Brown said. “They ran it, we didn’t.”
South Carolina rotated Joyner and Noland under center, and both were effective.
Joyner came into the game having attempted only one pass this season and 31 in his college career. But the element of surprise proved effective on the Gamecocks’ first possession, when Joyner hit the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Bell in stride down the middle of the field.
Joyner, who was named the game’s most valuable player, finished 9-of-9 passing for 160 yards and also ran for 64 yards.
“The element of making them defend the quarterback run was big,” Beamer said. “And he’s a talented thrower, too. … We just wanted to give them something else to defend.”
Joyner, who has struggled at times to find a role with the Gamecocks, said he learned about playing quarterback during the first bowl practice earlier this month.
“This means everything to me,” Joyner said. “This still feels like a dream. I thank God for preparing me these last four years. Never give up on your dreams. Adversity will come, but it’s how you overcome it.”
Beamer said in hindsight he should have used Joyner more at quarterback earlier in the season.
Howell, a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft, wouldn’t say if he plans to turn pro. After the game, he retreated to a corner of the field, spending time soaking in the moment of what could be his final college game.
“I have a decision to make,” he said, adding that it will involve a lot of prayer.
Howell made several impressive throws with his strong, accurate arm. But the junior quarterback spent most of the game under heavy duress playing behind an offensive line that struggled.
“We wanted to limit their explosive plays — and we wanted to make sure (Howell) didn’t get too many yards when he got out of the pocket,” South Carolina safety Jaylan Foster said.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks posted wins over Florida and Auburn this season in what was expected to be down season Winning seven games was an encouraging sign that Beamer may finally have this once-proud program headed in the right direction. “This is a great statement about where we are,” Beamer said.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels started the season ranked in the top 10 in the country and finished the year with a losing record, so it’s hard to describe this season as anything but a major disappointment. The defense needs major improvements and offensive line is in need of an upgrade as well.
South Carolina: There is plenty of excitement about the program moving forward, especially with former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler set to transfer in.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels will look to either Jacolby Criswell or Drake Maye to inherit the quarterback spot if Howell leaves. Maye is the younger brother of former UNC basketball star Luke Maye.
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