Steve Spurrier’s quarterback experiment was a flop. Thanks to Stephen Garcia, the Gamecock head coach was able to escape Charlotte Saturday without egg all over his face as the Gamecocks rallied for a 56-37 win over East Carolina in front of 58,272 fans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Spurrier announced Thursday Shaw had outplayed Garcia in pre-season camp and would start the game and play the first quarter. Garcia would play the second quarter, and then Spurrier would decide from there which quarterback to play. That decision came easily to him at halftime.
The Gamecocks fell behind 17-0 before Garcia entered the game five minutes into the second quarter. Garcia took the Gamecocks to a score on his first possession, a career best 32 yard touchdown run, and never looked back, or for that matter, over to the Gamecock sideline.
Garcia’s overall numbers on the night were modest…110 yards passing and 56 yards rushing. But he accounted for three touchdowns and provided a spark that went missing after Shaw lost a fumble at the ECU 19 to kill the Gamecocks’ opening drive.
Marcus Lattimore scored three times and rushed for 112 yards. And even the special teams got into the fun with Ace Sanders returning a punt 68 yards for touchdown, the Gamecocks first score of that kind since 2003.
East Carolina was led by quarterback Dominique Davis who completed 37 of 56 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
The Gamecocks will play their SEC opener next week at Georgia.