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WATCH: Grad assistant coach Zeb Noland leads South Carolina Gamecocks to win in season opener

Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Zeb Noland (8) scrambles against the Eastern Illinois Panthers in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Zeb Noland (8) scrambles against the Eastern Illinois Panthers in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Zeb Noland, an improbable starter at quarterback for South Carolina, threw four touchdown passes to propel the Gamecocks to a 46-0 season-opening victory over Eastern Illinois on Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina.

Noland, originally a graduate assistant on South Carolina’s coaching staff, was pressed into pass-throwing duty when starter Luke Doty suffered a preseason foot injury. A former quarterback at Iowa State and North Dakota State, Noland completed 13 of 22 passes for 121 yards without an interception in his first start for the Gamecocks (1-0).

ZaQuandre White registered 172 total yards and two touchdowns to help Shane Beamer earn a win in his first game as South Carolina coach.

The Gamecocks recorded their first shutout since blanking North Carolina State 34-0 on Aug. 28, 2008.

Chris Katrenick went 13 of 22 for 78 yards with two interceptions for the Panthers (0-2), who managed only 109 total yards. Eastern Illinois never generated any momentum on the ground either, totaling 31 yards on 22 rushing attempts.

Eastern Illinois’ first offensive play was intercepted by Jaylan Foster, setting up Noland’s 4-yard TD pass to Nick Muse. Muse then ran for the ensuing two-point conversion to make it 8-0.

Following a three-and-out by the Panthers, Noland marched the Gamecocks down the field and eventually found Jaheim Bell for a 3-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal.

Eastern Illinois had a punt blocked on its next possession and South Carolina capitalized once again with Noland hitting Josh Vann from 12 yards out to make it 22-0.

The Gamecocks were not done yet, however, as Noland found White for a 10-yard score in the final minute of the first half, sending the hosts into the locker room with a commanding 29-0 advantage.

A short field goal was the only scoring in the third quarter, and then White added to the rout with a 63-yard TD sprint early in the fourth. Jordan Burch’s 61-yard interception return for a score capped the onslaught with 7:44 to play.

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–Field Level Media