COLUMBIA — In hindsight, logic wasn’t exactly oozing from the student section at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.
Fans had a reason to be upset. It looked like South Carolina receiver Shaq Roland had a touchdown on the previous play, but refs ruled the sophomore didn’t have possession before falling out of bounds. Roland was held on the play, but no penalty was called.
The anger was instant, spewing from the north end zone as students hurled trash onto the field and, as it happened, in the direction of kicker Elliott Fry. With USC trailing Florida by one point in the fourth quarter, the freshman prepared for a 22-yard field goal that could give his team its first lead of the game.
The commotion could challenge any kicker’s concentration. Fry blocked it out.
“I thought they called a timeout,” Fry said of the delay before his kick as trash was cleared behind the goal post. “You just don’t really pay attention to that. You just focus on making the kick.”
Fry made that kick, and four others Saturday. He accounted for 13 of USC’s 19 points against the Gators, including two fourth-quarter field goals that were the difference on the scoreboard. It was good enough to be named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday.
His four field goals were a lifetime high. Even in high school, Fry said he never had that many in one game. They were so critical to USC’s win, coach Steve Spurrier didn’t mind excusing Fry’s lone miss from 38 yards.
“Four out of five is not bad. Nobody yelled at him. Nobody said, ‘You idiot, what are you doing?’” Spurrier said on his coach’s show this week. “Elliott’s an excellent kicker. He’s still a walk-on. We’re going to try to get him on scholarship as soon as we can in January, which we should. But he was a big reason we won the game tonight.”
Fry’s mother, Jennifer Withrow, told The Post and Courier through a text message Monday she hadn’t heard of an impending scholarship. Her son has proven he’s worthy to shed the walk-on label.
Fry has made 14 of 17 field goals this season, the second-most makes and attempts in the SEC. He has scored 78 points, tied for fifth in the SEC with LSU running back Jeremy Hill. Fry ranks fifth among SEC kickers in scoring.
A native of Frisco, Texas, Fry picked a good time to have the game of his life. His family was in the stands Saturday night, and they brought a special visitor.
Thompson Moore is a fourth-grade student at Prince of Peace Christian, where Fry went to school. Fry met Moore two years ago after he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, a disease Fry was also diagnosed with when he was in second grade.
Fry sent two tickets to the Florida game to Thompson and his father, Patrick. They sat with Fry’s family in the section reserved for players’ relatives in the lower level between the 40-yard lines.
“Great atmosphere!!” Patrick Moore texted before kickoff Saturday night.
“I got to say hi to Thompson before the game,” Fry said afterward. “He stayed at the same hotel as us. That was pretty cool having him there and being able to witness all that stuff in person with good seats and everything.”