Early stumble doesn't stop Cocks

South Carolina overcame a sluggish first half to beat the Kentucky Wildcats 38-17. The Gamecocks scored 31 straight unanswered points in the second half for the victory and increased their current winning streak to nine games, matching a school record.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky took a 17-7 lead into half-time in Commonwealth Stadium, a Kentucky team that wouldn't score again.

South Carolina came out and flexed its muscles in the second in tune to a 38-17 win while outgaining Kentucky 240-100 in the second half.

In fact, Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) never crossed midfield in the second half.

"They certainly had some chances to get us early," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "It seems like when we got those two touchdowns in the third quarter it took some steam out of them; took the crowd out of it."

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore's first rush in the second half (13 yards) gained more yards than all five of his first-half runs (12 yards).

Lattimore finished the game with 120 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.

"In the second half we had a better plan," Spurrier said. "Give it to Lattimore and let him run."

"We knew we had to establish the run," Lattimore added. "We worked on a play all week — our power play — and it had a lot of success."

Lattimore's six rushes on the drive that spawned his three-yard touchdown run was more rushing attempts than he had in the first half. He rushed for 41 yards on the 14-play, 81-yard drive that put South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) up 28-17.

"I wasn't frustrated at all. We just weren't executing." Lattimore said of the first half. "I'm coached by Steve Spurrier — six SEC championships, one national championship — he knows what he's doing. I'll never question his play calling. I'll never question any of the coaches."

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who led the team in rushing in the first half with 51 yards, threw two touchdowns while throwing for 148 yards (on 15 of 18) and rushing for 76 yards on 19 attempts. Shaw also threw zero interceptions.

"The coaches did a good job of coaching halftime adjustments," Shaw said.

Shaw hit Ace Sanders for a three-yard touchdown to give South Carolina a 7-3 lead at the 9:30 mark in the second quarter, and he hit Damiere Byrd on a 30-yard score that started 31 unanswered points for the Gamecocks in the second half.

Byrd's touchdown capped off a six-play, 73-yard drive for the Gamecocks.

"I told somebody that we don't have to worry about being overconfident in the second half like we did two years ago," Spurrier said.

Kentucky hurt South Carolina's season two years ago when the Wildcats knocked off the Gamecocks 31-28. A loss that South Carolina felt that it got "redemption" on.

"17-7 was not a huge lead for them," Spurrier said. "But I'm sort of glad that they didn't get that one right at the end of the first half." Kentucky had the ball with no timeouts inside the 10 right before the half ended, but a fumble and scrum helped run out the clock before the Wildcats could spike the ball for one last play.

Kentucky outrushed South Carolina 93-26 in the first half, but only finished the game with 120 rushing yards while South Carolina rushed for 244 yards.

Kentucky's starting quarterback, Maxwell Shaw, went out after two snaps with an ankle injury. His replacement, Jalen Whitlow, was 12 of 23 for 114 yards and two interceptions. He rushed for 53 yards, but lost 47 yards for a total of 6 yards on the day and a touchdown. Kentucky was led by Raymond Sanders with 59 rushing yards and a score.

"I was holding on to the ball too much — we got some sacks and interceptions," Whitlow said. "We just got to stay focused and keep the intensity high.

"We made a few adjustments, a few things," he said of the second half. "Nothing crazy, but they stopped us."

South Carolina, who registered seven sacks, will take on No. 5 Georgia next week in Columbia. A game that will be featured on ESPN's Game Day.

One key question was Shaw's health as he's been battling a nagging shoulder injury. However, Shaw negated any doubt.

"It doesn't really bother me anymore." Shaw said his injury.

He said he took some hits and felt OK. He exclaimed he'll be ready for the showdown with Georgia next week, but as all the Gamecocks did, he said they'll enjoy this victory tonight.


image provided by Jeff Drummond/KentuckyScout.com

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories