COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC Release) - Behind senior quarterback Connor Shaw's 368 yards of total offense, South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC) held on to defeat Vanderbilt 35-25 on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Shaw threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns on 21-for-29 passing while also leading the Gamecocks in rushing with 84 yards on 19 carries. Junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington made a career-best eight catches for 111 yards and a score, while sophomore running back Mike Davis added 144 all-purpose yards (77 rushing, 67 receiving) in the victory. Sophomore running back Brandon Wilds caught his first career TD pass, while junior Nick Jones also had a TD catch.
South Carolina scored on its first four possessions of the game. The first, set up by Ellington's 12-yard punt return to the Vandy 42, needed just six plays, with all the yards (27 passing, 15 rushing) coming from Shaw. Shaw hit Jones with a bullet toward the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The second Gamecock drive went much longer, as it took 11 plays to cover 93 yards. Davis capped the drive with a four-yard run. The biggest play came on Davis' 38-yard catch-and-run from Shaw that put South Carolina on the Vandy 24.
Junior quarterback Dylan Thompson piloted the third drive, an eight-play, 76-yard one that ended with his three-yard draw for the score. He went 5-for-5 for 67 yards, with all five passes going for first downs. The second quarter saw the Gamecocks keep rolling, scoring an eight-yard, 92-yard drive. Shaw hit Ellington in traffic from 26 yards out for the score, the third catch of the drive for the junior. He also had a three-yard grab and a 39-yard catch as well in the sequence.
Vanderbilt scored late in the first half on Jerron Seymour's one-yard run. Steven Clarke's 69-yard interception of Thompson's pass set up the one-play, one-yard score. It was the first interception given up by the Gamecocks in 72 pass attempts in 2013. The Commodores added a 54-yard field goal from Carey Spear as the half ended. South Carolina outgained Vanderbilt 381-95 in the first half and ran 52 plays to Vandy's 24.
The Gamecocks put up another touchdown on their first possession of the second half when Wilds caught a 33-yard TD pass from Shaw, finishing the 10-play, 75-yard drive in 4:38. On the ensuing Vandy possession, the Commodores drove deep into Gamecock territory before junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sacked VU's Austyn Carta-Samuels and forced a fumble, which senior defensive tackle Kelsey Quarles recovered, ending that Vandy threat.
But the Commodores kept coming, scoring early in the fourth quarter on Carta-Samuels' one-yard run, which ended a 10-play, 45-yard drive. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by the Gamecocks, setting up Wesley Tate's 19-yard reception from Carta-Samuels for the score. The two-point pass to tight end Steven Schue was good, making it 35-25 in favor of South Carolina. After a stalled Vanderbilt drive, the punt hit a Gamecock defender, and VU's Darrius Sims recovered, giving the Commodores another life. But senior cornerback Jimmy Legree picked off the Carta-Samuel pass on the goal line, the first interception by a Gamecock in 2013.
The Gamecocks, taking over at the one-yard line, ran the clock down to a minute before turning the ball over on downs at the Vanderbilt 36. The Commodores' final possession was unfruitful, giving the Gamecocks the win.
South Carolina has a bye week ahead before taking on UCF in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 28.
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