COLUMBIA (S.C.) -- Zeb has played enough football to be available when needed and to cherish the moments of greatness. Former graduate assistant was both a coach and a mentor to South Carolina's first Southeastern Conference victory in over a year.
Noland led a 75 yard touchdown drive for the Gamecocks. He connected with Xavier Legette with a 9-yard scoring pass in 37 seconds. Vanderbilt won 21-20.
Noland, 24, said that it was "surreal". "I told you guys that I was certain I would never get the chance to put on the pads again. "I wasn't certain I'd ever have this chance again."
Noland was calm and confident, and South Carolina (3-3, 1-3 SEC), broke its nine-game losing streak to conference rivals.
"Shout out Zeb. Jaheim Bell stated that he's a "GOAT" and that he is a tight end. He was a big player."
Shane Beamer, Gamecocks coach, said Noland arrived because Luke Doty was experiencing soreness from a foot injury that he suffered this summer while practicing. Noland played the three first games, before Doty came in during the 40-13 Georgia loss. Noland had not played since.
Noland's message to the huddle was clear: "Keep me clean. I got you. Let's get rolling.
Noland started the Gamecocks on the right track with a 29-yard pass from Nick Muse, tight end, to get in Vanderbilt territory.
Parker White scored an extra point to send Vanderbilt to its 16th consecutive loss against SEC rivals. Vanderbilt was leading by 20-14 with just two minutes remaining.
Clark Lea, the first-year coach of the Commodores, said that his team was hurt and disappointed by their loss. He said, "But there will still be points that we can build on for certain."
Noland doesn't worry about whether he will play again. He is focused on making sure that he makes Doty and the rest of the team a great team.
Noland started his college career at Iowa State. He then moved on to North Dakota State as a teammate with Trey Lance, a San Francisco 49ers passer. Noland accepted Beamer's invitation to join the staff.
Noland convinced Doty to put the pads on again after Doty injured his foot in August.
After Joseph Bulovas' 28-yard field goal, with 1:36 remaining for a lead of 20-14, it looked like the Commodores would be celebrating. South Carolina was held scoreless by Vanderbilt for almost 49 minutes.
However, South Carolina's winning spark was provided by Noland and Beamer who won his first SEC win since taking over the program in December.
Mike Wright, Vanderbilt's quarterback, threw for 206 yards and a touchdown pass of 52 yards to Will Sheppard. This gave Vanderbilt a 17-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. It held up until the last seconds.