Watch South Carolina open season with 97-yard kick return

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Deebo Samuel returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score and caught two touchdown passes from Jake Bentley as SC defeated North Carolina State 35-28 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Though unranked, N.C. State is considered by some to be a dark horse candidate to win the ACC, and potentially make it to the College Football Playoff.

It was South Carolina's 10th straight win over a team from the state of North Carolina and third straight over the Wolfpack.

Three tacklers missed Samuel on the opening kickoff, a 97-yard return for a score.

KICKING WOES: N.C. State brought in graduate transfer Carson Wise to solve its kicking woes, but the former Division II player from Carson-Newman shanked his first field-goal attempt of the season from 29 yards off the left goal post. Of course, the defensive line could only watch from the sideline as the N.C. State kickoff coverage unit dug an early 7-0 deficit against the Gamecocks. QB Jake Bentley found Samuel on a 39-yard score that put SC up 28-21 and is in the early running for the catch of the year honors.

A Finley fumble at his own 14-yard line set up another score by Dowdle and a 35-21 advantage after three quarters.

An interception by senior cornerback Johnathan Alston, in his first start on defense, gave the Wolfpack the ball back, but South Carolina's defense forced a punt.

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