Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks rode their 230-pound workhorse to a 24-21 victory over the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday night. Sophomore Marcus Lattimore scored all three Carolina touchdowns, carrying the ball 37 times for a career high 246 yards.
"Obviously, Marcus had a tremendous game," head coach Steve Spurrier said after the game. "We figured the best way to try and win the game was to just hand it to him and keep blocking."
Lattimore literally carried the Gamecocks to their first touchdown. On the team's second possession, he carried the ball five consecutive times to take it from the 50-yard line all the way in for the score. That trend continued throughout.
But if you ask Marcus about his success, he'll point straight to his offensive line, just as he did after scoring his third touchdown. Following a seven-yard score in the fourth quarter that ended up to be the eventual game-winner, Lattimore flipped the ball to the referee and pointed at right tackle Rokevious Watkins, thanking him for leading him into the end zone.
Asked about how he single-handedly almost out-rushed the nation's leading rushing team, he said, "That's the O-line. My O-line, and the receivers blocking downfield.
There are a lot of things that make No. 21 special and different than anyone we've seen in garnet and black. His humble and gracious attitude is incredibly rare. He doesn't celebrate - hardly at all. Not after driving a pile of four, five, or six defenders for an additional five yards. Not after busting off a 31-yard run that included a flashy cut to the outside that nobody saw coming. Not after scoring his third touchdown of the game, or even after capping off a 246-yard night with one last first down, securing a victory. He puts his head down and runs back to the huddle until the job is done.
There are few backs in the nation, college or pro's, who approach the game like so. Similarly, not many get stronger as the game wears on, particularly as they near 40 carries.
"When it comes to the fourth quarter, as I get more carries, I get stronger," Lattimore said."
It'd be difficult to believe those words if you didn't see the performance tonight. But did anyone see any signs of fatigue?
Even with all Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo had seen and heard about that special South Carolina running back, he admits that Lattimore surpassed all expectations.
"He gets hit at the line of scrimmage and drags us for more yards. He is everything he was built to be. We knew he was a great back coming into this game, but he was better than advertised."
In addition to the Navy defense, Lattimore also did some damage to a few statistical benchmarks.
Personally, he set a new career high in rushing yards surpassing his 212-yard night in Gainesville last year. For the first time in his career, he's gone over 100 yards for three consecutive games. That happened in the first half.
He was the first back in the SEC to surpass 200 yards in a game this year. That happened in the third quarter. In Carolina's record books, Lattimore's third TD moved him into sole possession of sixth place in career touchdowns.
His 246 rushing yards is the fourth highest total by any Gamecock. And with his new total of 1,731 career yards, he leapfrogged from 25th to 19th on the school's all-time list. Mind you, he's barely into his second season at USC.
Lattimore carries Gamecocks past Navy
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