South Carolina’s longest pass play of the season didn’t come on a throw downfield. Marcus Lattimore made sure of that with some nifty running after a screen pass.
The sophomore tailback took a short toss from quarterback Stephen Garcia and wove his way through a host of Vanderbilt defenders for a 52-yard touchdown just before halftime to give the Gamecocks a 14-3 lead.
“The touchdown on the screen play Lattimore had at the end of the half was a big play,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said.
On a night when Lattimore never got into a rhythm — he gained 77 yards on 20 carries for a 3.8-yard average — he still made the two huge plays that proved the difference. He added a touchdown on the ground in the second half with a 22-yard scoring run that gave South Carolina its final margin of 21-3.
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“He wasn’t making a lot of yards when he was carrying,” said USC coach Steve Spurrier, who did take note of the one big run as well as the play on the screen pass.
Lattimore credited Vanderbilt’s defensive effort.
“They did some good things up front,” he said. “They did a lot of twists, things we haven’t seen in the first three games. They weren’t foreign to us, but it was a tough game with tough yards.”
Lattimore’s touchdown catch was the second-longest pass reception of his career. He finished this game with three receptions for 73 yards.
Climbing the charts
Junior receiver Alshon Jeffery passed Sterling Sharpe for second place on USC’s all-time receiving list with a 12-yard reception in the first quarter. Jeffery, who had two catches for 34 yards on the night, now has 2,526 career receiving yards. He needs 255 yards to pass Kenny McKinley as the all-time leader.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Jeffery said. “I’d like to thank my teammates and my coaches for helping me get here. I’m not big on that, I just care about the win.”
The game, however, was his second straight with two catches, the fewest for him in a game since his freshman season.
“It’s not frustrating to me because whatever play is called, we’re going to run with it,” he said. “I’ll take a win any day. I’m a team player.”
South Carolina’s first-quarter offensive woes continued. For the third time in four games, the Gamecocks did not score in the opening period. Vanderbilt managed a 3-0 lead despite not getting a first down and gaining 16 yards in the quarter. USC picked up six first downs and 81 yards in the quarter but couldn’t score due to a pair of interceptions thrown by Garcia.
The Gamecocks have been outscored 23-7 in the first quarter, with the only score coming against Navy.
USC punter Joey Scribner-Howard didn’t have to punt in the Navy game last week. And then he didn’t punt in the first quarter against Vanderbilt. But the senior from Dutch Fork High didn’t show any rust. On his first punt of the game in the second quarter, he boomed a 56-yarder. He finished with three punts for a 46.3-yard average.
Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery
Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney