Well. That was a lot more stressful than I had expected.
No. 9 South Carolina defeated Vanderbilt 17-13 tonight in Nashville, but USC was lucky to come away with the victory, and had Vandy not failed to capitalize on scoring chances, this recap would be a whole lot more negative. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, and we’ll take those any way we can get them.
Marcus Lattimore fumbled on Carolina’s first play of the game, giving Vandy the ball. Connor Shaw was intercepted on the next possession, and the Commodores looked to be in business. Luckily for us, they couldn’t find the end zone and those early mistakes were basically irrelevant. Then Shaq Wilson nabbed a pick of his own, catching a pass from birthday boy Jordan Rodgers. That put the Cocks in a solid position for the first time in the game, and after Shaw ran for 20 yards, Lattimore went 29 yards to take it to the house and put Carolina on the board.
The Gamecocks again got into the red zone on their first possession of the second quarter, but ending up going for – and making – a field goal, which put them up 10-0. Things were looking up and the nerves seemed to have vanished. And then things got bad.
Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews took the ball 78 yards to the end zone, cutting the lead to 10-7. Their next possession tied the game. Then things really got bad.
With about five minutes of the quarter (and the half) remaining, Shaw ran for a gain of two yards, then came up off the ground looking like he was in extreme pain. He was wincing and grimacing and generally looking miserable on the sidelines, necessitating the entrance of Dylan Thompson. Unfortunately, Thompson was unremarkable in his season debut. He had only one possession in the first half, and notched five rushing yards and an incomplete pass. The teams went into the locker rooms tied at 10 points each, but the more pressing concern for Carolina was the health of their starting QB. Shaw left the sidelines before halftime and was keeping his right arm as still as possible. Things looked grim.