No. 9 South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13
The ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks turned in one of the
ugliest passing nights for a Steve Spurrier-coached team to open up
the 2012 season. Good thing the old ball coach had Marcus Lattimore
back and Connor Shaw turning in a gutsy performance with a bruised
Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, while Shaw added
92 yards to help South Carolina rally and pull out a 17-13 win
Thursday night over Vanderbilt.
”Our guys didn’t give up and I think we’re in pretty good
shape, but man I hope we can play a lot better offensively next
week,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina came in with high expectations after going 11-2
last season and finishing second in the Southeastern Conference’s
Eastern Division. Then Lattimore fumbled on his first carry, and
Shaw had his first pass intercepted to go with a penalty in the
Gamecocks’ first four plays of the night. It got worse when Shaw
took a helmet on the back of his right, throwing shoulder late in
the first half.
He went to the locker room where he said he took ”some
medicine.” The junior quarterback missed the first two series of
the second half before returning and didn’t get South Carolina
across midfield until the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.
”It wasn’t too pretty, but we’ll take the win, especially
against Vanderbilt in this place,” Shaw said.
Spurrier said Shaw’s shoulder was bruised but not dislocated.
Spurrier said Shaw even assured him he could pick up a first down
inside the final minute to make sure the Gamecocks ran out the
clock to seal the win.
”He’ll be sore for a while. I think he should be OK. Had some
nice runs there. He was hurting a little bit. That’s what it
took,” Spurrier said.
The Commodores came up with three sacks and forced two
turnovers, and they outgained South Carolina 276-272 in total
offense. But South Carolina had a 115-17 advantage in the fourth
quarter, and the Commodores turned it over on downs for the final
time with 1:47 left when Jordan Matthews couldn’t handle a
fourth-down pass from Jordan Rodgers. Gamecocks defensive back D.J.
Swearinger appeared to grab Matthews’ arm before the ball
It’s yet another botched call by officials for Vandy fans to put
into their long list of grievances.
”You did know the SEC just came out with very clear rules about
talking about the officials and what happens after games,”
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said when asked about the play.
”`Trying to get me fined?”
Matthews refused to comment on the no-call, though he waved his
arms looking for a flag.
”I’ve got to get more open,” Matthews said.
The Gamecocks also got five sacks, and Shaq Wilson came up with
an interception to end a Vandy scoring threat that set up
Lattimore’s first TD, a 29-yarder in the first quarter.
”I hated that happening, but I just had to forget about it,”
Lattimore said of his fumble. ”After a few runs, I started to feel
like myself again.”
Spurrier used three different quarterbacks, including senior
Seth Strickland, who’s only on the depth chart as a holder, when
Shaw shuffled to the sideline holding his right arm close to his
side to protect his aching shoulder. South Carolina finished with
67 yards passing, a poor showing for a Spurrier-coached team.
”We couldn’t get much passing, so we had to at least try to run
and get a touchdown or two and let our defense play,” Spurrier
said. ”And fortunately, our defense held them to 13.”
Even with the ugly start, South Carolina jumped out to a 10-0
lead. Vanderbilt came right back with 10 straight points to tie it
up going into halftime.
Rodgers threw a 78-yard TD pass to Matthews in the second
quarter as Vanderbilt scored 10 straight points. Carey Spear put
Vanderbilt ahead 13-10 with his second field goal, a 44-yarder,
with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Shaw, who now has won nine of his 10 starts, came back into the
game with 6:02 left in the third quarter. He went three-and-out
himself before putting together the game-winning drive. The big
play was a 20-yard pass to Justice Cunningham. Officials flagged
Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal for hitting a defenseless receiver
above the shoulder, knocking Cunningham’s helmet off.
”We had one of the worst passing nights we’ve ever had, but
Justice Cunningham made a huge catch and got a penalty on top of
it,” Spurrier said.
Hal tried to make up for the penalty with a 52-yard kickoff
return, but the Commodores punted it back after going three-and-out
to lose momentum.