By Rixon Lane:
The boo birds came cascading down from the upper reaches of Williams-Brice Stadium as the fans frustration matched that of USC coach Steve Spurrier. Four interceptions by Stephen Garcia. Dropped passes. Penalties wiping out nice gains. It was a night of malfunctions by the offense.
While the Gamecocks sputtered for most of the night on offense, it was the Carolina defense that stole the show. The Gamecocks held Vanderbilt to just 77 yards of offense. The defense came up with six sacks and forced three turnovers on the night.
Carolina’s offense struggled throughout the game, finding the end zone only twice. Senior quarterback Stephen Garcia finished 16-30 for 228 yards and one touchdown. However, Garcia was picked off four times on the night. He now has seven interceptions on the season.
After a spectacular performance last week versus Navy, sophomore standout Marcus Lattimore rushed 20 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. He also hauled in three passes for 73 yards and a score, accounting for both of Carolina’s offensive touchdowns.
On defense, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney led the charge for the Gamecocks with four tackles each. Ingram recorded three tackles for loss, two sacks, and the senior scored his third touchdown of the season by falling on a fumble in the Vanderbilt end zone. Clowney finished the night with two sacks and two forced fumbles, both of which Carolina recovered.
Just like they have all season, Carolina fell behind early, as the Commodores took a 3-0 lead following a Carey Spear 33-yard field goal in the first quarter. Neither team would score again in the first period, and Vanderbilt led after fifteen minutes.
The Gamecock defense gave Carolina its first score of the night when Jadeveon Clowney sack Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith, knocking the ball loose in the process. Antonio Allen scooped up the ball, but fumbled it into the end zone at the 11-yard line. Melvin Ingram alertly fell on the pigskin, and Carolina led 7-3 early in the second quarter.
Carolina’s offense would strike just before halftime, as Stephen Garcia would hit Marcus Lattimore on a screen pass, which the sophomore would take 52 yards for a touchdown with less than one minute to go before half time.
The Gamecocks would put the game away midway through the third quarter with an 11-play, 83-yard scoring drive. Marcus Lattimore would find the end zone from 22 yards out for his second touchdown of the evening to give Carolina a 21-3 lead.
Carolina’s defense would do the rest, keeping the Commodores’ offense bottled up all night. The Gamecocks were sensational against the run, holding Vanderbilt to four yards rushing.
Carolina improves to 4-0 and 2-0 in SEC play. The Gamecocks host Auburn next Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.