Sept. 17, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore rushed for a career-high 246 yards and three touchdowns to lead 10th-ranked South Carolina to a 24-21 victory over Navy on Saturday night in the Gamecocks’ hope opener at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Lattimore’s 246 yards is the fourth best rushing performance in school history, while the three touchdowns ties his career-high. With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 3-0 for the third time under head coach Steve Spurrier, who moved to 43-0 all-time against schools outside of the BCS automatic qualifying conferences.
“Obviously, Marcus had a tremendous game,” Spurrier said. “We figured the best way to try to win the game was to just hand it to him and keep blocking.”
Navy drops to 2-1, as it squandered a lead heading into the fourth quarter for the first time under head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
After a touchdown by Alex Teich gave Navy a 21-17 lead at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter, South Carolina turned to Lattimore on the game-winning drive. The Duncan, S.C., native touched the ball 11 times, including 10 rushes, for 59 yards on the drive as he capped it off with a 7-yard touchdown run with 12:45 remaining. The score moved Lattimore into sole possession of sixth place on South Carolina’s career touchdowns list with 24.
The Gamecock defense sealed the win by stopping Navy on its next two possessions. After forcing a three-and-out on the Midshipmen’s first possession, senior Spur Antonio Allen intercepted a Kriss Proctor pass at the South Carolina 45 at the 4:34 mark to end Navy’s final drive.
“It was a typical game I guess when we play a team that runs the triple option,” Spurrier said. “They stayed on the field a while, but we stopped them at the end. I told our defensive guys that I was really proud of our defense for stopping them in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.”
South Carolina had a stellar outing on offense, outgaining Navy 458-335 in total offense. The Gamecocks piled up 254 yards on the ground behind Lattimore’s career performance, while the Midshipmen finished the contest with 274 yards on the ground. Teich led the way for Navy with 93 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and Proctor added 68 yards and a score in the loss.
Brye French tallied 13 tackles and a sack to lead the Midshipmen, and Tra’Ves Bush added 12 tackles.
Navy struck first on its second possession of the night. Gee Gee Greene broke loose for a 30-yard gain down to the South Carolina 35. Two plays later, John Howell gave the Midshipmen the early lead with a 27-yard touchdown scamper at the 7:43 mark of the first quarter.
The Gamecocks answered on the ensuing possession with a seven-play, 71 yard scoring drive. Lattimore carried the ball five times for 50 yards on the drive, including a 6-yard touchdown run, as South Carolina tied the game at 7, marking the first time the Gamecocks have scored in the first quarter this season.
The Midshipmen methodically marched back down the field to regain the lead with a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ate up nearly six minutes of the clock. Proctor capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, as Navy took a 14-7 lead with 13:50 left in the half.
South Carolina responded once again with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive to knot the game at 14, as Lattimore found the end zone from 5 yards out to finish off the drive.
The Gamecocks took a 17-14 lead into the locker room after Jay Wooten drilled a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
South Carolina seemed to be on its way to taking control of the game to start the third quarter, driving the ball from its own 6 down to the Navy 18, but Kwesi Mitchell intercepted Stephen Garcia at the Navy 2 to halt the drive.
The Midshipmen took advantage of the turnover, going 91 yards to regain a 21-17 lead on Teich’s 2-yard touchdown run, but Lattimore and the Gamecocks answered to take the lead for good with their 15-play scoring drive.
The Gamecocks return to Southeastern Conference play next Saturday as they host Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium.