The South Carolina Gamecocks traveled up the road to Lexington to play Kentucky and lost in disappointing fashion by the score of 31-28.
Breaking it Down…1st Quarter…South Carolina received the opening kickoff. After a delay of game penalty on first down, it looked like the Gamecocks might not have the focus they would need. On the next play Tori Gurley caught a first down pass. Garcia hooked up on the next set of downs with Alshon Jeffrey for a first down. Marcus Lattimore would do the rest with a 30 yard run on a draw down the left sideline for the touchdown. On their next possession Kentucky picked up two first downs before punting the ball away. The Gamecocks got the ball back and mixed some long passing plays with some runs to move the ball to the 3. After a failed fade to Alshon, Garcia found him on a short slant for the touchdown to make the score 14-0. Kentucky responded by going three and out. A Gilmore punt return started the Gamecocks at their 42. Bad Garcia returned to overthrow an open Brian Maddox on a wheel route and then throw an interception on a screen play. Kentucky took over near midfield and walked down the field.
2nd Quarter…UK converted two third downs and scored on a play action pass to cut the lead to 14-7. South Carolina received the ensuing kick and responded by marching down the field itself. Marcus Lattimore made what is becoming a vintage Lattimore run by breaking tackles and scoring from 10 yards out. After a Randall Cobb kickoff return and a personal foul penalty, Kentucky took over around the 50. After moving into field goal range, Kentucky’s Chris Matthews’s personal foul moved them out of range. On the Kentucky punt, Stephon Gilmore muffed the punt and Kentucky recovered at the 10. The Gamecock defense held and forced a field goal to make the score 21-10. South Carolina scored quickly when Kentucky manned up and Garcia hit Lattimore on another wheel route for a touchdown. The extra point made the score 28-10. After another good Randall Cobb kick return Kentucky went three and out and Stephon Gilmore ably handled the punt. The Gamecocks started to move the ball again, but after a long completion, Ace Sanders fumbled the ball for the third South Carolina turnover of the half. Kentucky was unable to move the ball before time ran out in the half.
3rd Quarter…Kentucky received the opening kick of the second half and went three and out. SC moved the ball but stalled and had to punt. Ky took over at their 5. They methodically moved the ball down the field and scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 28-17. South Carolina’s defense looked ineffective in allowing Kentucky to convert several third downs. Needing to move the ball to reestablish their momentum, South Carolina did the exact opposite and went three and out. Marcus Lattimore had left the game with a sprained ankle and the offense didn't look the same. They punted the ball to Kentucky and gave up a conversion on third and fourteen before the quarter ended.
4th Quarter…South Carolina’s defense decided to play the corners 15-20 yards off the ball, and Kentucky cashed in time and time again. Kentucky scored and went for two. The conversion failed leaving the score 28-23. South Carolina took over and promptly went nowhere. A spurious offensive pass interference penalty nullified an Alshon Jeffrey catch that would have set up a third and short. Randall Cobb then muffed the punt but South Carolina was unable to fall on the ball. Kentucky couldn’t move the ball and punted. Stephon Gilmore misplayed another ball and ran backward giving South Carolina the ball at their 5. A comedy of errors ensued again, and South Carolina had to punt. Kentucky took over at their 32 yard line with 7:31 left in the game. The Wildcats converted two third downs and moved the ball to the Gamecock 20 where they faced third and three. Josh Dickerson stuffed the Randall Cobb run for a loss of 4 yards. Facing fourth and seven from the 24, Kentucky ran a corner route with Randall Cobb and Mike Hartline found him wide open just before taking a big hit. The touchdown gave the Wildcats a one point lead, and they would convert the two point attempt to make the score 31-28. South Carolina received the ball at their 31 with 1:09 left. They moved the ball to the UK 20 with 0:11 left on the clock. Coach Spurrier used his last timeout to set up a final play before attempting the field goal. Garcia looked off the safety and then tried to find Lamar Scruggs in the end zone. The ball was tipped and intercepted ending the game.
Stars of the Game…Marcus Lattimore rushed 15 times for 81 yards and 2 TD and caught 4 passes for 133 yards and 1 TD…Stephen Garcia was 20-32 for 382 yards with 2 TD and 2 INT…Melvin Ingram had a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss…Devin Taylor had 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
What to take away from this game…This game was horrible. It took all of the momentum and national respect that had been earned in the win over Alabama and flushed it. The whole team looked helpless in the second half. That being said, it's over. We don't have to worry about tiebreakers with Kentucky because they are going to lose another conference game. Marcus Lattimore continued to show why he is so valuable to this team. We need to, as fans as well as the team, put this game behind us and move onto Vanderbilt. We won one against Alabama we weren’t expecting and now we have lost one we weren't expecting. We need to focus on winning the East and go from there.
This and that…This was SC's first loss to Kentucky in the last 11 games….Kentucky was 7 of 11 on third downs in the second half…They were also 2 of 2 on fourth downs…South Carolina is now 4-2 (2-2) on the year and ranked 19/20/21 in the AP, Coaches and Harris polls…The Gamecocks have now scored more points in the first quarter this year (70) than they did all of last year (65)…Marcus Lattimore now has 12 touchdowns on the year which is fourth all-time in USC history for TDs in a season. The record is 16 by Harold Green in 1987.
Up next…The Gamecocks travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt at 7 pm on Saturday. The game will be televised on FSN.