Gamecock Gamechangers

It was over from the start. Ninth-ranked South Carolina struck early and put the pedal to the metal in a 48-10 win over East Carolina. In this new feature to GamecockAnthem, we name five players worthy of a game ball as well as five key plays that led to the Carolina win.

Five game balls

1. Brison Williams

One week ago Brison Williams was one of the goats for his missed tackle that lead to a long touchdown for Vanderbilt. Saturday against ECU, there were no blown coverages or missed tackles from Williams. Williams had a career-high three tackles and recorded his first career interception in the second quarter of the contest. Williams was expected to step in at the safety position and provide lock-down ability. He displayed that ability Saturday against the Pirates.

2. Rory Anderson

Throughout fall camp the coaches raved at the athleticism Carolina has at tight end. Other than Justice Cunningham's huge fourth quarter catch, the tight ends were a no-show against Vanderbilt. Buster Anderson more than made up for it Saturday. The sophomore tied for a game-high four receptions for a game-high 90 yards and his first career multi-touchdown game.

3. D.L. Moore

Moore only had two catches, but he made both of them count. Moore caught two touchdown passes, one on a trick play from Ace Sanders, for his first career multi-touchdown game. The senior has had to battle his entire career to get into the starting line-up and he made it pay off today. His first reception was a scramble play that he turned into an impressive 29-yard score.

4. Shaq Wilson

Shaq Wilson entered his senior season with two career interceptions. In just two games he has now doubled that total. Similar to what Antonio Allen was able to do last season, Wilson is quickly making a name for himself in his final season. Wilson also had two tackles and a quarterback hurry to go along with the interception.

Player of the Game – Dylan Thompson

For the second week in a row, this was an easy decision. Back-up quarterback making his first career start after a dismal performance last week against Vanderbilt, Thompson comes in and all he does is complete 21-of-37 passes for 330 yards and three scores. It was his first three touchdown passes of his career and all were easily career-highs. Connor Shaw is still the starter definitively, but now everyone knows that the Gamecocks have a viable back-up in Thompson. Thompson proved today that he could be the starter at a lot of places around the country.

Plays of the game

5. Legree pick six

Jimmy Legree had just forced and recovered a fumble that was overturned by replay. Understandably upset to having such a big play overturned, two plays later Legree stepped in front of a Rio Johnson pass, intercepted it and took it 34 yards to the end zone. Normally it would be a top three play, or possibly even the top play, but with Carolina already up 28-0 before the pick, it goes down as a nice, but not great, play.

4. Shaq lays out

On the second play of the second half, Johnson tried to force a ball over the middle to try and find a hole in the zone defense. He never saw Wilson, who lunged and snagged the ball out of the air and falling to the turf. It was the fourth turnover in five possessions for the Pirates and led to Carolina's first touchdown of the second half and a 28-0 lead.

3. Thompson to Moore

It wasn't the prettiest of plays, but the end result was pretty. Thompson was pressured and all but sacked, but somehow was able to avoid the sack. He rolled to the right and, as any good receiver would do, Moore rolled with him to the middle of the field. Thompson found Moore, who leaped to make the catch. Turning upfield, Moore ran left, picking up a key block and winning the race to the end zone.

2. Beauty to Smith

It was one of the prettiest passes of the game. DeAngelo Smith ran a corner route, a favorite of former Gamecock receiver Alshon Jeffery, and Thompson put it on the money. Smith went up and grabbed the ball above an ECU defender for a touchdown. That gave the Gamecocks a 21-0 lead and the rout was officially on.

Play of the game

1. Flying like a Byrd

In any great performance there is always that one play that gets everybody going. For South Carolina it was the third play of the game. Speedster Damiere Byrd ran a seam route down the middle of the field, easily outrunning the defender. All that had to happen was Thompson hitting his target. After underthrowing Ace Sanders on the first play from scrimmage, Thompson didn't miss his target this time. Thompson took his time, allowed Byrd to beat the defender, and threw a pass that was slightly underthrown, but Byrd made the catch for a 53-yard gain all the way to the ECU six. Lattimore took it in on the next play for the first score of the game.

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