The junior defensive end got his first sack of the season when he dropped Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith for a 9-yard loss in the first quarter. Taylor, who piled up 7.5 sacks last season, also batted down a pass in the second quarter.
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The senior defensive end continued to step into the spotlight by scoring his third touchdown of the season on a fumble recovery in the end zone to give USC a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. He later added two big sacks in the period. Both Ingram and Taylor got help from freshman end Jadeveon Clowney, who forced a pair of fumbles.
After giving up plenty of points and yards in the first three games, the Gamecocks defenders buckled down and shut down the Commodores.
Even when the sophomore tailback doesn’t play his best game of the season, he still makes the big plays that prove to be the difference. He turned a short pass reception into a 52-yard touchdown before halftime, and he scored on a 22-yard run in the third quarter that gave the Gamecocks breathing room.
The senior quarterback threw a ball up for grabs on USC’s first possession that resulted in a Casey Hayward interception at the Vanderbilt 7. Garcia tossed another interception later in the quarter that Hayward returned 24 yards to set up a field goal by the Commodores for a 3-0 lead. His third interception came early in the second quarter, and his fourth one came in the Vanderbilt end zone in the final quarter.
Going for it
Coach Steve Spurrier opted not to punt on a fourth-and-1 play from the USC 40 in the first quarter. Garcia got stuffed on the quarterback sneak and Vanderbilt took over on downs, although the Commodores couldn’t capitalize on the short field.