The South Carolina Gamecocks finally exorcised their demons from their last time out, putting away the Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 37-14 to score an SEC road victory in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday.
The action got started early, when quarterback Jake Bentley found receiver Shi Smith streaking down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. After Vanderbilt went three-and-out, the Gamecocks added to their total with a 33-yard field goal from Parker White.
On Vanderbilt’s ensuing possession, Rashad Fenton intercepted a Kyle Shurmur pass, but the Gamecocks couldn’t cash in. South Carolina then played nicely, as the Commodores came up with a turnover of their own when Dare Odeyingbo picked off Bentley to end the first quarter. Not to be outdone, Vanderbilt added a touchdown of its own, thanks to running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
The Gamecocks weren’t done, however, and quickly went back to work. Shi Smith came up big again with a 52-yard reception that got South Carolina in business, and Rico Dowdle finished the drive with a touchdown to put the Gamecocks up 17-7.
Unfortunately, the Commodores came right back, as Kyle Shurmur and running back Jamauri Wakefield drove Vanderbilt down the field and into the end zone to narrow the margin 17-14 in favor of South Carolina. Thankfully, the Gamecocks were able to mount another scoring drive, this time ending in a 35-yard White field goal to make the halftime score a more comfortable 20-14.
When play resumed in the second half, the South Carolina defense held strong and forced a Vanderbilt punt. The Gamecocks tacked on another field goal, this one a 36-yarder, to make the score 23-14. After both teams exchanged punts, Javon Kinlaw strip-sacked Shurmur, and Aaron Sterling recovered to put the Gamecocks back in business. After a quick pass to Deebo Samuel, Mon Denson took the ball into the end zone to put South Carolina up 30-14.
At this point in the game, things got a little weird. Weather forced a stoppage, and when play resumed, South Carolina’s Rico Dowdle fumbled the ball away to the Commodores. Thankfully, the defense was able to come up with a stop and force a Vandy punt, but the Gamecocks fumbled yet again when A.J. Turner lost track of the ball on the Commodores’ 25-yard line. Fortunately, the defense held, and the Gamecocks mounted an eight-play, 49-yard scoring drive punctuated by Ty’Son Williams’ 1-yard plunge into the end zone to provide the final 37-14 margin.
South Carolina improves to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, finally purging bad memories of the loss to Georgia in Week 2.