COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina Gamecocks bounced back from their first loss of the season to beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 35-25, but not before their conference rival put up a late fight.
Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-2 in SEC) staged a spirited second-half comeback. After the No. 13 Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1) pushed the lead to 35-10 on the first drive of the second half, the Commodores scored two touchdowns 13 seconds apart to pull within 10 points with 13:59 remaining in the game.
Quarterback Austy Carta-Samuels capped a 10-play, 49-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Shon Carson fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Andrew Williamson recovered for Vanderbilt at the Gamecocks' 19-yard line. Wesley Tate caught a screen pass on the next play and scored. The Commodores converted a two-point conversion to pull within 10 points.
Vanderbilt forced a punt on the next South Carolina possession and had a chance to pull within one score but Jimmy Legree intercepted a Carta-Samuels pass in the end zone to end the threat. The Gamecocks took over at their own 1-yard line with 8:41 remaining and converted a fourth-and-inches to keep the drive alive. They ran the clock down to 55 seconds remaining.
A week ago, South Carolina had coaches fighting on the sideline and a defense that looked to be in complete disarray. The offense made mistakes in crucial situations and it all led to the Gamecocks falling out of the top 10 after a loss to Georgia.
But they seemed to cure all of those woes against Vanderbilt. South Carolina scored on its first four possessions and the defense held the Commodores to 95 total yards in the first half.
South Carolina won the toss and deferred -- a rarity under Steve Spurrier -- and it paid dividends. The Gamecocks' defense got a three-and-out and took possession at the Vanderbilt 42-yard line for the first scoring drive. Connor Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 12-yard scoring strike.
The Gamecocks added touchdown drives of 93, 76 and 92 yards in scoring on its first four possessions. Mike Davis scored on a 4-yard run, back-up quarterback Dylan Thompson added a 3-yard scoring run and Shaw hit Bruce Ellington for the final score for South Carolina.
Steven Clarke set up Vanderbilt's first score when he returned an interception 69 yards to the South Carolina 1-yard line. Jerron Seymour followed with the scoring run to get the Commodores on the board. Carey Spear connected on a 54-yard field goal as the half expired to make it 28-10.
NOTES: WR Bruce Ellington had seven receptions for 108 yards in the first half. He had four catches in his previous three games dating back to last year. It was also his first touchdown of the season. ... CB Steven Clarke recorded his first career interception and the first of the season for the Commodores. ... RB Mike Davis continued his stellar play with 45 yards rushing and 67 receiving to go along with his one score.