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Former South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Phil Petty, who enjoyed a spree of stardom in college football, died on Thursday at the age of 43. Petty was in a hospital in Columbia when he passed away; the cause of his death is unknown.
Petty’s role in South Carolina’s sharp ascension in college football between 2000-2001 was defined by his determination to fit Lou Holtz’s new script and turn things around after a rough two-year stretch that preceded Holtz.
In his first two years, Petty went 1-21, including an 0-11 record in 1999. South Carolina went 8-4 in his third year and 9-3 in his senior season, also winning consecutive Outback Bowl games.
“Phil Petty typified what a Gamecock truly is,” said South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner in a statement following Petty’s death.
“A native South Carolinian, he was a fighter on the football field, a tremendous person off the field and beloved by all Gamecocks. He was a great friend to many and a wonderful dad and husband. My prayers go out to his wife, Morgan, children, Sage and McCoy, and his many friends.”
Petty was named MVP of the Outback Bowl in 2001, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The Gamecocks defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, 31-28.
Petty was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Award that year — he then moved on to play one season in the pros with the Tennessee Titans.
South Carolina coach Shane Beamer shared his condolences.
“So sorry to hear the news of @GamecockFB great Phil Petty passing away. Thoughts & prayers to his family.”