It was a relieved group of Gamecocks that filed out of Bank of America Stadium Saturday night. They had rallied from 17 points down to defeat East Carolina 56-37 and avoid the embarrasment of losing to a 21 point underdog as the 12th ranked team in the country.
Stephen Garcia saw his string of 28 consecutive starts come to an end, but he perhaps had one of his finest moments as a Gamecock in leading the comeback. Garcia wasn’t particularly sharp with his throws (7-15), but his presence on the field seemed to lift up his teammates and they appeared to have played at a much higher level after his entry into the game in the second quarter.
There were plenty of other heroes for the Gamecocks as they scored in all three phases of the game. That includes special teams. Ace Sanders took a punt back 68 yards in the fourth quarter for a touchdown, the first Gamecock to score on a punt return since Chavez Donning in 2003.
Marcus Lattimore got off to a slow start with just 40 rushing yards at halftime. But he picked things up in the second half with 72 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the night with 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He’s now rushed for 20 touchdowns in his 15 game USC career.
The Gamecocks finished with 351 total yards, 220 of that on the ground. The Gamecock defense had a busy night against the Pirates’ pass happy attack. They were on the field for 84 plays. ECU quarterback Dominique Davis completed 37 of 56 for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns. Lance Lewis caught 13 of his passes for 108 yards and 2 scores.