Gamecocks defense sinks Vanderbilt, rescues offense

No. 10 South Carolina overcame a so-so offensive performance with a stellar defensive effort in a 21-3 home win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

South Carolina had to rally in the second half of its first three wins, but it took a 14-3 lead with 13 seconds left in the opening half of Saturday’s contest on Stephen Garcia’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lattimore. Vandy didn’t get any closer.

The Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) are off their best start since Lou Holtz led them to a 5-0 start in 2001.

The Commodores (3-1, 1-1 SEC), who entered the game with an NCAA-best 10 interceptions, picked off Garcia four times — three in the first half — but didn’t have much to show for it. South Carolina’s defense was stout, holding the Commodores to 71 total yards and forcing three turnovers.

None were bigger than a fumble freshman Jadeveon Clowney forced when he sacked Larry Smith early in the second quarter. Antonio Allen scooped up the loose ball but lost it when he was hit at the 10-yard line, and Melvin Ingram pounced on it in the end zone for his third touchdown of the season.

Ingram has scored on two fumble recoveries and a fake punt run.

Lattimore, who led the nation in rushing through three games, was held to a season-low 78 yards but had a rushing touchdown and a touchdown catch.

Sophomore Connor Shaw replaced Garcia after the senior’s career-worst fourth interception in the fourth quarter.

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