No. 6 S Carolina rolls past Kentucky in 2nd half

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Even a coach who loves passing as much as Steve
Spurrier knows there are times his South Carolina team must run the ball
to win games.

The sixth-ranked Gamecocks discovered that Saturday night against Kentucky.

Trailing 17-7 at halftime and held to
just 26 yards on the ground, South Carolina outrushed Kentucky 174-7 in
the second half and scored 31 unanswered points for a 38-17 victory.

Marcus Lattimore rushed 23 times for 120
yards and two second-half touchdowns and Kenny Miles added a 17-yard
run as the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) scored on five
of six possessions. They also moved into a tie with Florida and Georgia
atop the East division, with the Bulldogs coming to Columbia, S.C., next
week.

“We knew as a team that we had to establish the run,” said Lattimore, who had five carries in the first half.

“We worked on our power play and had
some success. … I wasn’t frustrated at all. We just had to run the
ball a little more.

Connor Shaw chipped 76 yards on 19
carries along with passing for 148 yards and two scores, including a
30-yarder to Damiere Byrd that awoke the Gamecocks from a sluggish first
half.

Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) outplayed South
Carolina the first 30 minutes despite losing quarterback Maxwell Smith
on the first series with an ankle injury. Smith, returning after missing
last week’s Florida loss with a separated shoulder, was replaced by
freshman Jalen Whitlow.

He got the Wildcats going with 8-yard
touchdown run and Raymond Sanders added a 10-yard score, and for a while
it looked as if they would pull another upset at Commonwealth Stadium.
Kentucky won the last meeting here 31-28 with 21 unanswered points.

Instead, the Wildcats totaled 70
second-half yards and were outgained 348-243. Whitlow was intercepted
twice and sacked six times, including four in the second half.

“I was holding the ball too much,” said Whitlow, who finished 12 of 23 for 114 yards. “We got some sacks and interceptions.”

Before that South Carolina got little,
Spurrier’s frustrations was obvious as he walked off the field. But the
leaders did all the talking for him in the locker room.

“Our guys really had a good look in
their eyes, nobody was pouting,” said Spurrier, off to his first 5-0
start as Gamecocks coach. “Maybe we learned something about ourselves as
we go forward.”

Byrd’s touchdown catch seemed to jump-start South Carolina, which went ahead to stay on Miles’ TD.

“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Byrd said, “but we were able to take advantage in the second half.”

Smith was tackled low by Byron
Jerideau. His cleats appeared to be caught in the turf and he
immediately grabbed his left ankle, lying on the field for several
moments before heading to the bench.

Trainers taped the ankle and he tried to walk on it before heading to the locker room for X-rays.

That again forced Whitlow into an emergency situation but the difference this time was the freshman’s weeklong preparation.

It didn’t show immediately as he was
quickly sacked after replacing Smith, but after the defense twice denied
Shaw on two runs at the 1, Whitlow made the work pay off.

Kentucky went 94 yards in 16 plays,
helped by Raymond Sanders’ 28-yard run and two by Jonathan George for 25
yards. Whitlow, with great protection, chipped in a 20-yard pass to
DeMarco Robinson before Sanders got the Wildcats down to the 5 and
settled for Craig McIntosh’s 22-yard field goal and an early lead.

South Carolina eventually regrouped to
lead 7-3 as Shaw led a 64-yard drive helped by his 37-yard pass to a
wide-open Ace Sanders, who added a 3-yard touchdown reception two plays
later.

Kentucky scored on its next two drives
covering 67 and 34 yards, the latter of which was set up by its special
teams as Daron Blaylock leaped over the protection to block Tyler Hull’s
punt that A.J. Legree recovered.

Whitlow’s passing and running got the
Wildcats a 10-7 lead, connecting with Legree twice for 26 yards followed
by two runs covering the final 12, including an 8-yard scoring
scramble.

Raymond Sanders’ 10-yard run made it 17-7 with 1:52 left in the half.

The Wildcats got another scoring
opportunity just before halftime when a snap sailed over Shaw’s head and
was recovered by Taylor Wyndham at the 10. It failed when Whitlow was
stripped of the ball, and despite Kentucky’s recovering the ball at the
3, the clock ran out before it could run a play.

That turnover summed up an out-of-sync
first half for South Carolina, which began when Bruce Elllington dropped
Shaw’s first pass. There went his quest to match Tee Martin’s SEC
record of 23 consecutive completions, and little improved afterward for
the Gamecocks.

“I sat back too long and maybe (it was) receivers not getting open,” Shaw said.

They were outgained 173-108, as the
Wildcats limited Shaw’s passing and running. He was also sacked twice
and South Carolina punted twice.

The Gamecocks came out more focused and
physical in the third quarter and wasted little time taking the lead.
Shaw hit Byrd in the back of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown to
close within 14-17, and Miles put South Carolina ahead on the next
possession.

“Coming out in the second half, we knew
that we didn’t have a good first half,” Gamecocks defensive end Devin
Taylor said. “Our whole plan was to come with the intensity that we
didn’t show.”