COLUMBIA, S.C.. --- South Carolina scored three touchdowns in a four-play span of the first quarter Saturday en route to a 42-6 thrashing of mistake-ridden Kentucky at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Fullback Andrew Pinnock blasted his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run, quarterback Phil Petty scrambled from 14 yards out, and wideout Corey Alexander hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Petty as the No. 13 Gamecocks built a 21-0 lead in the final 2:52 of the opening period.
Kentucky never recovered, struggling to maintain any drives against an aggressive South Carolina defense until Shane Boyd connected with Aaron Boone on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 10:26 left in the game. That helped the Cats avoid a shutout, but couldn't mask the problems of a day which included four turnovers, 118 yards in penalties, numerous dropped passes and misfires in the passing game.
"The thing I think that probably hurt us more than anything was we did lose our focus a little bit," Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said. "...We're not executing anything right now. That's always a sign, to me in the programs and coaches that I've been around, that you're probably trying to do too much. We'll probably have to cut the package down."
Kentucky, which did not announce its starting quarterback until game time, went the whole way with Shane Boyd. The redshirt freshman went 20 of 36 for 188 yards and two interceptions and a fumble. He was hurt by six dropped passes, including one that led to an interception, but also erred on three potential touchdown passes.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jared Lorenzen, who passed for 304 yards last year in a 20-17 loss to South Carolina, stood on the sidelines with a baseball cap the entire game. That decision surprised fans of both teams.
"We decided to go with Shane today because we feel like Shane gives us our best opportunity to win," Morriss said. "Here's a kid who's played three or four ballgames, and for him to grow and mature and take us where we need to go, he needs to be playing.
"He's got to grow through some of these pains. You look at Petty going 0-11 his first year with (Lou) Holtz. That sure as heck wasn't fun for Petty, but those hard times can make you a better quarterback in the long run."
Better times have arrived quickly for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina goes to 5-0 for the first time since 1988 and improved to 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks' hopes for an SEC East Division title were also aided by Georgia's 26-24 victory over Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville.
Leading the charge for South Carolina was junior tailback Derek Watson, who worked his way out of Holtz's doghouse with his first 100-yard effort of the season. Watson carried the ball 16 times for 135 yards on a day when the Gamecocks carved up the UK defense for 237 yards (5.5 per carry).
South Carolina finished the day with 402 total yards, the fifth straight team to eclipse the 400-yard plateau against the Cats this season. Kentucky has surrendered 128 points in its three SEC losses.
"It's hard to take," said UK senior safety Patrick Wiggins. "You think you're going to be prepared, but as a defense and a total football team right now we're lacking discipline. I think there was a lot of times today when we had a chance to make some stops, and we had some silly penalties that killed us.
"We can't afford to go out and play like that... We're kind of in a state of shock."
In classic Holtz style, the USC coach downplayed his team's performance despite the school's best offensive output since a 52-14 win over Vanderbilt in 1995.
"Nice to win convincingly. Had a chance to play a lot of people," he said. "Some keys: one was we didn't turn the ball over...
"I said we had to win the third quarter. Then I could drink a Coke and eat a hot dog in the fourter quarter. It was nice, a good productive performance. Still, we are not a great football team."
Kentucky (1-4) dropped to 0-3 in league play with its 12th straight SEC loss dating back to November 1999.
One of the lone bright spots for the Cats was junior tailback Artose Pinner, who rushed for 105 yards on 19 carries. It marked the first UK back to have consecutive 100-yard efforts since Anthony White accomplished the feat in 1999.
"Kentucky played hard, they ran the ball better than we would like," Holtz said. "Kentucky is better than the score indicated. We had 70 or 80 more yards offense than they did."
The Cats return home next week for a 7 p.m. matchup with LSU. The Tigers (2-2, 0-2 SEC) were beaten 44-15 at home by Florida on Saturday.
"It was my fault we lost the game," said a dejected Morriss, whose head coaching career is off to a disappointing 1-4 start. "I didn't do a good job of getting our coaches ready to come down here and win the football game. We as coaches have to do a better job and keep our head up.
"We can throw in the towel or come out next week and get after LSU."