Marcus Lattimore did not have one of his better games Saturday against East Carolina. The junior Heisman hopeful rushed for just 40 yards and one touchdown, but that touchdown was a historic one. His first quarter touchdown just over a minute into the game was the 33rd of his career, tying him for the school record in career touchdowns. George Rogers, the only Heisman winner at Carolina, had 33 career touchdowns from 1977-80 to set the record and Harold Green tied it in 1989.
"I didn't know until last week that I was only two touchdowns away," Lattimore said. "I've met George Rogers and Harold Green, and just to be up there with them and mentioned with them is an honor. I just have to keep it going and try and break it."
Lattimore has tied the record in just 22 games, far shy of the four years it took Rogers and Green to set that mark. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Lattimore will break the record for career touchdowns next week when the Gamecocks host UAB. After missing the last half of the 2011 season with a torn ACL, it has been a long time coming to score that 34th touchdown that now seems like it is just seven days away.
"It's kind of weird because the way I felt last week to this week is a huge difference," Lattimore said. "I wasn't even thinking about my knee (today). It's feeling great. My body is feeling great and I'm at a great weight right now. I'm just going to keep pushing all season."
If Lattimore scores that touchdown on a run it will be the 31st rushing touchdown in Lattimore's career, tying both Rogers and Green for most in school history.
In his 22 career games, Lattimore has failed to score in only five of those games. In 2010 Lattimore failed to score against Arkansas, Clemson, Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, and Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In 2011 Lattimore failed to score against Kentucky, despite rushing for 102 yards. That was the only game in Lattimore's career that he rushed for 100+ yards and did not score.
Eight times Lattimore has had multiple touchdowns, including a career-high three touchdowns on four separate occasions; Florida and Troy in 2010 and East Carolina and Navy in 2011.
The 40 rushing yards Saturday was fifth-lowest in his career. He rushed for 33 yards in 2010 at Auburn, 30 vs. Arkansas in 2010, -1 vs. Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2010, and 39 at Mississippi State in 2011. Two of those four games he suffered injuries that took him out of the game.
"They weren't going to let us beat them with the run," Lattimore said. "They played a 3-4 most of the game, but there were seven or eight guys in there."
Lattimore also has 198 career points and will go over the 200 mark on his next touchdown. He would be just the fifth Gamecock to score 200+ points. The only non-kicker to break the 200-point mark is Rogers with 202.
Day of firsts
It was a day of firsts for many South Carolina players. On the scoring side, Dylan Thompson threw his first career touchdown pass to Rory Anderson in the first quarter, DeAngelo Smith had his first touchdown reception in the second quarter, D.L. Moore had his first multi-touchdown games, Anderson had his first multi-touchdown game, Other offensive firsts includes Shaq Roland's first two catches of his career, K.J. Brent's first two career receptions, and Landon Ard scored his first career point on an extra point late in the game.
"When I first went out there I was a little nervous," Roland said of playing in front of the home crowd for the first time. "The first pass was a deep pass and I was just thinking (too much). After I got the first catch I was relaxed and confident."
Defensively, Brison Williams had his first career interception, Gerald Dixon had his first career sack, and Jordan Diggs made his debut and recorded his first two tackles. Jimmy Legree intercepted his first pass and returned it for his first career touchdown.
"Jimmy Legree had his best game ever as a Gamecock," Steve Spurrier said.
"On the fumble I was a little upset when they overturned it, but I just kept playing and fortunately I got the pick six," Legree said.
Fun –n- Gun
Saturday proved to be a return to the old days for Steve Spurrier. Carolina was able to throw the ball all over the field. Back-up quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, and Ace Sanders and Andrew Clifford each threw touchdown passes. Eleven different Gamecocks caught at least one pass. As a team Carolina amassed 528 yards of offense on 74 plays.
"We felt coming in that we had a chance to get the ball off and probably today it was in the air for more distance than we've had since I've been here," Spurrier said. "Our receivers had some fun going after them."
East Carolina was focused on stopping the run, often bring seven or eight players into the box. That opened it up for the passing game.
"East Carolina was tough on the run," Spurrier said. "I asked Shawn Elliott, "What do you like? What do you want to run?' He said ‘Coach, I'd keep throwing every down.' Very seldom do you hear the line coach say that. We were getting a lot of yards per pass attempt and we weren't getting much in run attempts. I like it when your line coach says to keep throwing."
Where'd you go?
Spurrier, as always is the case, was very complimentary of the atmosphere created by the South Carolina fans. With a new season, high expectations, and a new video board had the electricity flowing throughout the stadium. Then everyone left.
"It was a beautiful day," Spurrier said. "The fans were alive and ready to go. I wish they'd stay after halftime though. It was 21-0. They could have mounted a comeback. Fans, stay in the ballpark a little longer. That party in the parking lot can wait, can't it?"
Spurrier was certainly in rare form with his jokes about the fans, even throwing in a jab at Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
"We had 50 plays at halftime," Spurrier said. "That Clemson coach would be proud of us, wouldn't he?"
South Carolina has extended its winning streak to six games. This ties for the third longest in school history.
Head coach Steve Spurrier is now 45-0 in his career and 19-0 at Carolina against schools from outside the BCS automatic conferences.
The Gamecocks' regular-season non-conference winning streak is now at 13 games. The Gamecocks' last regular-season non-conference loss came against Clemson in 2008.
The Gamecocks now have their fourth 2-0 start in eight years under head coach Steve Spurrier.
This win also marks Steve Spurrier's 199th career victory as a colligate head coach.
Today's captains for the Gamecocks were DeVonte Holloman, A.J. Cann, Justice Cunningham and Devin Taylor.
Damiere Byrd's 53-yard catch in the first quarter marks his longest career catch.
After a six-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Marcus Lattimore tied the school record for career touchdowns with 33, matching George Rogers (1977-80) and Harold Green (1986-1989).
South Carolina posted the most first-quarter points in a game since Nov. 20, 2010, against Troy, where the Gamecocks scored 28 points in the first quarter.
DeAngelo Smith pulled in a 30-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter for his first career touchdown.
South Carolina's offense posted 21 points in the first half, its biggest lead going into halftime since leading Troy by 49 points at the half on Nov. 20, 2010.
Ace Sanders second career touchdown pass came on a 16-yard pass to D.L. Moore in the fourth quarter.
KJ Brent had his first career reception on a three-yard pass by Thompson in the fourth quarter.
Seth Strickland's first touchdown of the season and second of his career came on a 51- yard pass to Rory Anderson in the fourth quarter.
Brison Williams grabbed his first career interception on a Rio Johnson pass in the second quarter.
DJ Swearinger recorded his fifth career interception after a quarterback hurry by Jadeveon Clowney in the second quarter.
South Carolina's defense shut out the Pirates going into the half, its first shutout going into halftime since Sept. 3, 2009, against NC State.
Shaq Wilson grabbed his second interception of the season and fourth of his career in the third quarter.
South Carolina had five forced turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles) this game and 10 in the last two matchups against the Pirates.
Jimmy Legree snagged his first career touchdown and interception on a Rio Johnson pass in the third quarter. The Gamecocks' first "pick six" since Devin Taylor's 48-yard interception for a touchdown Nov. 5, 2011, at Arkansas.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
Patrick Fish's 24 yard punt marks his first career punt as a Gamecock.
Landon Ard recorded his first career PAT after Strickland's 51 yard touchdown pass to Anderson in the fourth.
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