So. Carolina survives Tennessee despite injury to Lattimore
Columbia, SC, United States (4E Sports) – Connor Shaw threw for three touchdowns and a career-high 356 yards to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks over the Tennessee Vols, 38-35.
The Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) finished without their injured star, Marcus Lattimore, who had a 28-yard touchdown run, extending his school marks to 41 TDs overall and 38 rushing.
The Vols (3-5, 0-5) nearly rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the final quarter.
Zach Rogers hauled in a 22-yard pass in the end zone to bring Tennessee within a field goal.
Then Tyler Bray drove Tennessee to the Gamecocks’ 19 with 1:08 to go before defensive end Jadeveon Clowney forced a fumble to end the series. Tennessee forced a punt and got a final chance, but Victor Hampton intercepted Bray’s long pass attempt to seal the win.
“One mistake when you’re behind in a ballgame in the SEC can really hurt you,” said Rogers, who tied a Tennessee record with three touchdown catches. “We have learned week in and week out that you can’t make those kind of mistakes.”
South Carolina looked in control most of the half, scoring on three of its first four possessions. Shaw threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Bruce Ellington and 26 yards to Rory Anderson before Lattimore’s TD run.
Lattimore was carrying the load for South Carolina, before the injury. He was gained 65 yards in the opening half, including a 28-yard burst for his 41st career touchdown at South Carolina.
In an ensuing play, he was wrapped up from behind by linebacker Herman Lathers as defensive back Eric Gordon came in at the knees. Lattimore’s body whipped around with his already damaged right leg slamming against the ground.
The leg, which underwent surgery for an ACL injury last season, flopped to the turf.
Coach Steve Spurrier said the injury appeared every bit as serious as the torn knee ligaments which caused Lattimore to miss the final six games last season. He required surgery and about six months of rehabilitation to make it back.
Players hope Lattimore hasn’t played his last game after a horrific knee injury that will likely end his season prematurely for a second straight year.
“He’s going to do wonderful things,” the coach said, while acknowledging, “I don’t know what field of life.”
Still, Spurrier is hopeful he can have Lattimore in his backfield as he has the past three seasons.
“Maybe he’ll be back next year,” Spurrier said. “Maybe it won’t be quite as severe as it appeared on the field out there.”