Lattimore goes down again

South Carolina defeated Tennessee 38-35 Saturday, but the story is Marcus Lattimore's leg injury. Lattimore suffered another severe leg injury, this time to his right leg, in the second quarter and was carted off the field. Updates on his injury, as well as others.

There is nothing worse that could have possibly happened than what happened late in the second quarter of Saturday's game between South Carolina and Tennessee. Marcus Lattimore got the handoff from Connor Shaw, cut to the left and was grabbed up high by Tennessee's Herman Lathers. As Lathers was grabbing Lattimore's shoulders, defensive back Eric Gordon dove to try and take Lattimore's legs out, a routine tackle attempt employed in every game.

This time there was nothing routine about it.

Gordon hit Lattimore on his right knee as Lattimore was planting his foot, bending it in a way it is not supposed to be bent. It was one of the most difficult injuries to watch, one that rivals Lawrence Taylor's hit on Joe Theisman in 1985 that ended Theisman's career. It was one that fans in attendance and watching on television will soon not forget.

"Obviously Marcus has a severe knee injury, but we will let the doctors tell you exactly what all it is later on," head coach Steve Spurrier said. "He's such a good young man. Good things will happen for Marcus, I don't know exactly where or how, but good things will happen for Marcus Lattimore. Very, very unfortunate thing that happened to Marcus and we will all pray for him. Maybe he will be back next year and maybe it won't be quite as serious as it appeared out there."

As Lattimore laid on the ground receiving medical attention, Ace Sanders, high school teammate Nick Jones, and Kenny Miles gathered around Lattimore to offer their support. Members of the offensive line circled around with Justice Cunningham and Connor Shaw for prayer, and Bruce Ellington stood near the sidelines with both hands on his helmet.

"I told him we love him and hang in there," Spurrier said. "Nicky Jones, his teammate in high school, gave him some encouraging words."

One of the most horrific sights quickly turned into a scene of sportsmanship at its highest level. As Lattimore was helped onto the cart, the entire South Carolina team and coaches and most of the Tennessee team circled around Lattimore to offer their support for a young man that epitomizes what college football is all about.

"Them doing that really meant a lot," tight end Justice Cunningham said. "I've never seen anything like that. We wanted to do something to make him happy because we know he's going through a lot."

"I'm not sure if I've seen that. Obviously everybody in the SEC and around the country has utmost respect for Marcus Lattimore, mainly as a person," Spurrier said. "As a person there is none better than him that I've met. It was touching that the Tennessee guys felt bad about it too. We're all on the same page that it is a terrible part of the game, but sometimes injuries do occur. Players don't try to hurt other players in our league."

Social media blew up as Marcus Lattimore trended at the top of Twitter for nearly 30 minutes. Athletes from coast-to-coast offered their well-wishes for Lattimore, a guy that suffered a devastating knee injury to his other knee last season.

"It was a lot of emotion because he's one of our leaders," defensive back Victor Hampton said. "We know how hard he works. It was crazy that it happened to him again. We hope he keeps his head up and tries to come back again stronger than before."

As Lattimore was carried off the field to a standing ovation from all inside Williams-Brice Stadium, there was a completely different feeling in the stadium. Excitement had been replaced by somberness. Despite the injury the game had to go on and Carolina players had to find a way to push through and finish the game.

"I think our players understand that whatever happens we all have to move on," Spurrier said. "At halftime I said the best thing we can do is win this game and give Marcus a game ball, which is what we did. That's what we needed to do was win the game and get him the game ball and then we have to move on from there."

Carolina finished out the half strong, scoring at the end to take a 28-14 lead into the locker room.

"We were hurting about it at halftime," defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said.

"He's a great person off the field. It hurt everybody," Hampton said. "We do have some great leaders on our team so they kept us positive. Everybody was just going around and saying he wouldn't want us to be pouting, he'd want us to go win the game."

South Carolina was able to close the game and win it for Lattimore, who will be reevaluated in a few days to see the extent of the injury. He is listed as out indefinitely.

"It hurt the team," Clowney said. "That's one of the hardest-working guys I've ever seen. He just talked about it last night playing every play like it's your last. I couldn't believe it."

Whether or not that play was the last play of Lattimore's Gamecock career remains to be seen, but it is not the way Gamecock Nation wanted to see him go out.

Injury notes

- Byron Jerideau suffered a right ankle injury, the same ankle previously injured.

- Brandon Shell suffered a left ankle injury early in the game and did not return.

- Akeem Auguste tweaked his left groin in Thursday's practice and did not dress.


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