Last year, Marcus Lattimore dominated the entire game against Georgia.
Saturday, he waited until the fourth quarter. With the early lead in the SEC East on the line, Lattimore rushed 13 times for 94 yards, scored the go-ahead touchdown and rushed for the game-clinching first down in final 15 minutes to carry the No. 12 Gamecocks past unranked Georgia 45-42 in Sanford Stadium.
Lattimore finished with 27 carries for 176 yards and one touchdown, one fewer scores than defensive lineman Melvin Ingram. Ingram, the 267-pound senior, scored touchdowns on a 68-yard fake punt and a 5-yard fumble return and recovered Georgia’s last-gasp onside kick in a game that featured eight lead changes.
“I’ve never won a game like this that I can remember,” Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said. “Georgia outplayed us. Give them credit, they outplayed us, but somehow or another we won the game. Sometimes it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”
The Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 SEC) trailed 35-31 following a 15-yard touchdown run by Georgia freshman Isaiah Crowell with 6:28 left in the game, but Lattimore rushed for 38 yards and caught a 6-yard pass on the ensuing possession. He scored on a 3-yard run with 3:28 left to put South Carolina ahead for good.
Ingram clinched the win 16 seconds later when he picked up an Aaron Murray fumble forced by Jadeveon Clowney and returned it 5 yards for a touchdown.
“We weren’t going to forget about (Lattimore) even though he was struggling, and we weren’t blocking very well,” Spurrier said. “He’s a very good back. He gives us hope, but we have some areas we have to get a lot better if we’re going to make any kind of run.”
Georgia fell to 0-2, and 0-1 in the SEC in front of a sellout home crowd of 92,746.
Spur Antonio Allen also scored his second touchdown in as many weeks, picking off a Murray pass and racing 25 yards for a third quarter touchdown, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore returned a fumble 56 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.
“It was meant to be for us, it was our day to win,” quarterback Stephen Garcia said after the Gamecocks were outgained 436-395. “It’s kind of a blur right now. That was a big win for us.”
Garcia finished 11-of-25 for 142 yards and a touchdown. Ingram was the only Gamecock with more than one score.
“We lost one here two years ago when we had about 500 yards of offense like they did (tonight),” Spurrier said. “Maybe the football gods are smiling on us for a while. We’ll have to find out.”
The Gamecocks, who play Navy on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium, have now beat Georgia in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
South Carolina had been outgained 117-58 and trailed 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Gamecocks, whose first five drives against Georgia averaged 13.4 yards each, have gained a total of 127 yards in the first quarter of their two games this year.
The Bulldogs got two Blair Walsh field goals, a 37-yarder and a 39-yarder, to take a 6-0 lead but missed a chance to extend that lead when Walsh missed a 33-yarder with 13:10 left in the second quarter.
“They were dominating the game and had to kick field goals,” Spurrier said. “That’s always a bad sign when you have to kick a bunch of early field goals. It just seems like it always comes back to haunt you.”
Postgame video: Steve Spurrier
Geo: FG Walsh 37, 5:59.
Geo: FG Walsh 39, 3:09.
USC: A.Jeffery 34 pass from Garcia (Wooten kick), 6:41.
Geo: Wooten 26 pass from Murray (Walsh kick), 2:53.
USC: Ingram 68 run (Wooten kick), 2:03.
Geo: Crowell 17 pass from Murray (Walsh kick), 6:09.
USC: Garcia 8 run (Wooten kick), 2:39.
USC: Allen 25 interception return (Wooten kick), 1:52.
Geo: Bennett 19 pass from Murray (T.King pass from Murray), 12:45.
USC: FG Wooten 49, 8:31.
Geo: Crowell 15 run (Walsh kick), 6:28.
USC: Lattimore 3 run (Wooten kick), 3:28.
USC: Ingram 5 fumble return (Wooten kick), 3:12.
Geo: T.King 33 pass from Murray (Walsh kick), 2:15.
|Time of Possession||29:02||30:58|
RUSHING: South Carolina, Lattimore 27-176, Ingram 1-68, Garcia 6-11, Carson 1-2, Ellington 1-0, A.Sanders 1-0, Team 4-(minus 4). Georgia, Crowell 16-118, Samuel 11-43, Boykin 2-14, Murray 6-11, T.King 1-3, Mitchell 1-1, Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING: South Carolina, Garcia 11-25-2-142, Team 0-1-0-0. Georgia, Murray 19-29-1-248.
RECEIVING: South Carolina, A.Jeffery 5-85, A.Sanders 3-43, Lattimore 2-8, Cunningham 1-6. Georgia, Mitchell 5-52, Figgins 3-36, Bennett 3-24, Crowell 2-40, T.King 2-40, Brown 2-22, Wooten 1-26, Samuel 1-8.