Gamecocks answer wakeup call to sink Commodores

uscfoot-17white It took South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson a while to warm up, but once he did Vanderbilt couldn’t stop him.

Thompson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Gamecocks handed the Commodores a 48-35 defeat at Dudley Field on Saturday night.

Thompson struggled through a rough first quarter, missing some wide-open receivers, but when his accuracy improved, Vandy’s freshman-laden secondary was no match. The senior threw a touchdown pass in the second, third and fourth quarters, and he finished 22 of 34 for 237 yards.

South Carolina (3-1, 2-1 SEC) has won three in a row since being blown out in its opener by Texas A&M. Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2) is still looking for its first Southeastern Conference win for rookie coach Derek Mason.

The Commodores led the entire first half, minus the last 23 seconds.

Vanderbilt’s Darrius Sims returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and quarterback Patton Robinette hit wide receiver C.J. Duncan with an 8-yard pass to put the Commodores up 14-0 with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

South Carolina, though, roared back for 17 straight second-quarter points. Elliott Fry’s 45-yard field goal put the Gamecocks on the board, and Thompson and the defense added to it.

Thompson got going after a slow start, connecting on 11 of 17 first-half throws for 124 yards, including a 29-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Damiere Byrd in the back of the end zone.

South Carolina took the lead when safety Brison Williams raced 53 yards down the right sideline after intercepting freshman quarterback Wade Freebeck, who came on for an injured Robinette.

South Carolina took a 10-point lead early in the second half when Thompson hit wide receiver Shaq Roland with a 29-yard pass. That gave the Gamecocks a 24-14 lead on 24 unanswered points.

Just seconds later, though, Sims took another kickoff back for a touchdown — a 100-yard dash that cut Vandy’s deficit to 24-21.

The teams traded field goals, and then Thompson hit senior receiver Nick Jones for a 7-yard score inside the front right pylon with 10:34 left in the game.

Vandy made it interesting when kicker Tommy Openshaw hit a 30-yard field goal to bring VU to within 34-27 with 5:57 left. But, on South Carolina’s next possession, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper dashed 70 yards out of the wildcat to the 1-yard line, setting up Thompson’s score for a 41-27 advantage with 4:35 left. Cooper amassed 188 total yards, including 114 on 10 catches.

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