Sept. 29, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sixth ranked South Carolina erased a 10-point halftime deficit and scored four touchdowns in the second half on the way to a 38-17 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium. The Gamecocks are 5-0 on the year and 3-0 in the SEC while the loss drops Kentucky to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the league.
South Carolina owns a nine-game winning streak dating back to last year, tied for the longest winning streak in school history. The Gamecocks won nine consecutive games in 1984.
Junior running back Marcus Lattimore carried 23 times for 120 rushing yards and tallied two touchdowns with junior quarterback Connor Shaw going 15-for-18 in the air for 148 yards and two touchdowns as well as 19 carries for 76 yards on the ground.
Trailing 17-7 at halftime, the Gamecocks scored on their opening possession of the second half to cut the deficit to three points. A 14-yard rush to convert a third down followed by an 11-yard rush by Shaw set up a 30-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd. It marked Byrd’s second touchdown reception of the season.
After the defense forced a three and out, the Gamecock offense drove 57 yards on the next drive to regain the lead. Carolina mixed the run and the pass on an eight-play drive that was capped by a 17-yard touchdown run by Kenny Miles. The touchdown was Miles first of the season and put Carolina ahead 21-17.
The defense was stellar for Carolina in the third quarter limiting Kentucky to just 33 yards. After being held to just 12 yards in the first half, Marcus Lattimore carried eight times for 49 yards in the third quarter as well.
With a four-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, South Carolina put the game away with two more touchdown scores and a field goal. The Gamecocks’ longest drive of the season in time of possession, 7:12, was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Lattimore. It was a 14-play, 81-yard drive that featured 63 rushing yards by Lattimore.
The Gamecocks held a 28-17 lead with the defense continuing its steady play. DeVonte Holloman intercepted Kentucky quarterback Whitlow on the next possession with freshman defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. coming up with another interception in the Wildcats’ next possession. Dixon Jr.’s interception set up Lattimore’s second touchdown of the game, this one from four yards out. Carolina would add a 31-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter by Adam Yates to complete the scoring. After allowing 173 total yards in the first half, the defense delivered in the second half limiting the Wildcats to just 70 yards of offense in the final 30 minutes of the game with no points allowed as well. South Carolina’s offense was stellar in the second half scoring 31 points and gaining 240 yards. The Gamecocks also rushed for 184 yards in the second half.
The Gamecocks appeared to be going in for the first score of the game midway through the first quarter on their second drive of the game. With 3rd and goal from the Kentucky 1-yardline – the Kentucky defense stood tall and stopped South Carolina on a pair of quarterback sneaks to take over on downs near the goalline.
The Wildcats rode the momentum of their defense putting together a 16-play 94-yard drive before settling for a 22-yard field goal by Craig McIntosh that gave Kentucky a 3-0 lead. Twice, the Wildcats converted a pair of 3rd and long conversions on 12-yard rush by Jalen Whitlow and a 24-yard rush from Sanders. A key 20-yard pass completion to Demarco Robinson as well as a 15-yard face mask penalty gave Kentucky the ball deep in Carolina territory. However, the Gamecock defense responded on its own with a goalline stand, forcing McIntosh to have to kick his first field goal of the game.
South Carolina broke ahead of Kentucky in the second quarter going 64 yards in their second drive of the period. Shaw got the drive going with both his legs and his arm. He rushed for 11 yards and completed a pair of passes to Marcus Lattimore as well as a 37-yard completion to Rory Anderson that put the Gamecocks into scoring position. Deep into Kentucky territory, Shaw found Ace Sanders for a three-yard touchdown reception giving the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead.
Kentucky answered the Gamecocks on their next possession though with a touchdown of its own to regain the lead. Whitlow also had a steady dose of rushes and passes before capping the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats were also aided on the drive by a 15-yard face mask penalty by the Gamecocks that moved Kentucky deep into South Carolina territory.
With a three-point lead, Kentucky held the Gamecock offense to a three and out and blocked Tyler Hull’s punt giving the Wildcats the ball on the South Carolina 34-yardline. As Kentucky threatened, the Gamecocks suffered a bad break as a tipped pass by Gamecock defensive back Jimmy Legree landed in the hands of UK wide receiver Daryl Collins as Kentucky made its way into the red zone. Raymond Sanders capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that increased Kentucky’s lead to 17-7.
South Carolina returns to action next Saturday hosting Georgia at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. with the game televised live on ESPN.