COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It took a little longer than expected, but South Carolina won its season opener for the 14th consecutive year.
Riding out a one-hour, 44-minute weather delay in the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks beat North Carolina 27-10 Thursday night in front of 81,572 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Steve Spurrier, who opened his ninth season at South Carolina, improved to 23-1 in openers as a college head coach. His only loss came at Duke against the Gamecocks in 1989.
"It was a very good win," Spurrier said. "North Carolina played hard. Their guys came to play, they just gave up too many big plays, and it cost them."
Over the course of Spurrier's nine seasons in Columbia, South Carolina typically has struggled in season openers, and the coach felt his team did so again Thursday. A revamped Gamecocks running game, which lost Marcus Lattimore a year early to the NFL, helped keep the high-scoring North Carolina offense at bay.
The Gamecocks, who opened the season with their highest ranking in school history at No. 6, got an impressive performance from running back Mike Davis. The sophomore gained 115 yards on 12 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. That play sealed the win and capped the game's scoring.
North Carolina pulled within 20-10 on the opening drive of the second half, going 67 yards on 17 plays to set up a 20-yard field goal by Thomas Moore.
On the next play from scrimmage, Davis took a handoff, broke it outside and outraced the defense.
"I've got some speed," Davis said. "Some people probably thought I was slow, but I just wanted to show my talents."
North Carolina's offense, which set school records for yardage and points last year in Larry Fedora's first season in Chapel Hill, never got on track. The Tar Heels were held to their lowest point total since 2011, and they managed only 293 total yards.
Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner finished 26-for-43 for 194 yards and one touchdown, but the rushing attack was limited to 99 yards on 36 carries.
"(South Carolina) won the football game and did a great job, but we have to execute," Fedora said. "If we execute like we did tonight, then it won't matter for us because we won't have a chance. We need to make better decisions with the ball, we have to block better, and we have to run harder."
South Carolina scored on its first three series to jump to a 17-0 lead. The Gamecocks struck quickly on the third play from scrimmage with a 65-yard scoring pass from Connor Shaw to Shaq Roland.
North Carolina was forced to punt on its first series, and South Carolina took a 10-0 lead on a 39-yard field goal by walk-on freshman Elliott Fry.
After another Tar Heels punt, South Carolina backup quarterback Dylan Thompson threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kane Whitehurst. It was Thompson's only pass attempt of the night.
The Gamecocks had 203 yards of offense after their opening three drives, while the Tar Heels had mustered only 35 yards and one first down.
North Carolina's only sense of an offense punch in the first half came on a methodical 16-play, 70-yard drive that sliced South Carolina's lead to 17-7. Renner capped the march with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis with 9:35 remaining in the half.
That drive accounted for over half of the Heels' yards in the first half.
"We knew it would be tough coming in here to their stadium and playing a game in this situation," Fedora said. "I was disappointed in the way that we played in all three phases of the game."
Fry gave South Carolina a 20-7 lead at the half with a 26-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining.
"The first half, we had five possessions and scored on four of them, so that's not too shabby," Spurrier said. "The second half, we didn't do too much of anything. Mike Davis' run was about it."
NOTES: The touchdown catch came on Whitehurst's first career reception. Whitehurst redshirted as a freshman at Arkansas in 2011 before being dismissed from the team. ... South Carolina All-America DE Jadeveon Clowney was credited with three tackles and no sacks. He did register three quarterback hurries... Renner completed 13 of 21 passes for 79 yards in the first half. His total of 194 passing yards was the lowest he's had since Fedora took over. ... Both Shaw and Thompson connected for touchdowns on their first pass attempts of the season.