South Carolina was in the midst of allowing another fourth quarter comeback by a team that wasn't quite on par with the Gamecocks.
Kentucky had made a valiant effort so far in the fourth quarter to bring the game within six points when they scored on a drive that started with a Bruce Ellington fumble on a kickoff return.
The Wildcats were grabbing all the momentum at that point and had quieted the crowd at Williams-Brice to a low roar. Something needed to happen and it need to happen fast in order for the Gamecocks to flip the switch on Kentucky and try to hang on to the lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ellington fumbled the ball again at the three-yard line and returned it to the Gamecocks 11-yard line. South Carolina was facing a long 89 yards to get to the end zone and they turned to the ground game immediately.
The first play was a seven yard carry by Mike Davis. Then, Connor Shaw, doing what he does best, picks up a big 31-yard run bringing the Gamecocks to the South Carolina 49-yard line. Afterwards, Shaw would then hit running back Mike Davis for an 18-yard gain to the Kentucky 33-yard line. Another Shaw run for seven yards set up USC for a 2nd down play from the UK 26-yard line.
Enter Pharoh Cooper.
Cooper enters the game as the Wildcat quarterback for the Gamecocks. He takes the direct snap from Clayton Stadnik and goes to his left. Stadnik and left guard AJ Cann pull immediately on the play to their left to give Cooper some lead blockers. Rory Anderson is lined up on the left side as well as the blocking tight end and between him and Corey Robinson, they've sealed off the inside for Cooper and he makes a move to the outside. Bruce Ellington comes up to block from the inside receiver position and Damiere Byrd went on a fly route to the end zone taking away the other cornerback and a lane opens up for Cooper.
Cooper hits the hole hard following his blockers. Kentucky's defense closes the gap as Cooper hits the hole but he's able to bounce off a defender and use a spin move to free himself from the group of bodies and make a break towards the end zone. As Cooper gets near the end zone, Byrd's defender comes up and Cooper uses a nifty in-and-out move to pick up a few extra yards before being tackled at the three-yard line.
A few plays later, Connor Shaw scores on the keeper to give South Carolina a 14-point lead after the two-point conversion.
The Gamecocks had already had a few big plays to answer the Kentucky momentum but it was impressive to see a freshman step up in that role in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter when the Gamecocks needed it the most. Cooper is known for his play-making ability in high school and it showed what he could do with the ball in his hands.
This play alone may give the coaching staff all the ammunition to use Cooper in more roles moving forward and it certainly was a great play and big moment to help South Carolina get a victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.