No. 9 South Carolina edges Vanderbilt in opener
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw dove head first for a two-yard gain late in the second quarter and immediately grimaced in pain while clutching his right shoulder.
He was examined in the locker room, missed half of the third quarter, but gutted it out and guided the Gamecocks to the go-ahead score early in the final frame.
Shaw's toughness, along with a healthy Marcus Lattimore, led No. 9 South Carolina to a 17-13 win over Vanderbilt in the season opener for both teams on Thursday.
"Connor (Shaw) just had a bruise, nothing was out or a sprain or a dislocation," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. "He'll be sore for a while, but I think he should be ok. He had some nice runs when he was hurting a little bit and that's what it took."
Shaw completed 7-of-11 passes for 67 yards with an interception and carried the ball 14 times for 92 yards for South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC), which has won 13 straight season openers and posted a school-record 11 wins last year.
"They gave me some medicine," Shaw said of his treatment in the locker room. "I got a ball and just started working out, I didn't want it to get stiff on me. It was painful, but I got through it."
Lattimore, who punched it in from a yard out for the go-ahead score to conclude a 9-play, 66-yard drive, had 23 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns. It was the junior's first game back since tearing his ACL while blocking during a game against Mississippi State last October.
"It's so nice. I knew that he was going to be able to come out here and pick up where he left off. He had a great game tonight," Shaw said of Lattimore's performance.
On his 24th birthday, Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, completed 13-of-23 passes for 214 yards with a touchdown and interception for Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1), which went 6-7 last season.
Trailing 13-10 after Carey Spear missed a 51-yard field goal late in the third quarter, Shaw led the Gamecocks 66 yards in nine plays for the go-ahead score.
On the second play of the march, he found Justice Cunningham, who took a big hit from Andre Hal while hauling in a 20-yard reception over the middle. Hal was penalized 15 yards on the play for hitting a defenseless receiver.
A bit later in the possession, Shaw scampered 12 yards to the 1-yard line and got up gingerly again after the play. Lattimore punched it in two plays later to make it 17-13 with 11:25 to play.
The Commodores turned it over on downs with 1:47 remaining when Jordan Matthews, who caught eight passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, couldn't come down with a 4th-and-7 pass along the right sideline.
It appeared that South Carolina defensive back D.J. Swearinger grabbed Matthews' arm before the ball arrived, but a flag wasn't thrown.
Shaw sealed the win with a 7-yard run on 3rd-and-5 on the Gamecocks' ensuing series.
Earlier, the Commodores were unable to take advantage of a pair of South Carolina miscues on its first two possessions.
Vanderbilt, which turned the ball over on downs on its opening trek after failing to convert a 4th-and-5, immediately got the ball right back at the South Carolina 44-yard line after Karl Butler recovered a Lattimore fumble on his first carry of the contest.
The Commodores, though, went three-and-out, before getting the ball back after Shaw was intercepted by Kenny Ladler on the third play of the Gamecocks' second series.
Ladler returned the ball 17 yards to the Gamecocks' 21-yard line, but Shaq Wilson picked off Rodgers' wide-receiver screen pass on a 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard-line and brought it back 37 yards to the Vandy 49-yard line.
"We had opportunities early in the game and should have been up 10-0 [early on] with momentum," Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin said. "It could have been a completely different game. We had opportunities to put together a significant win and didn't get it done."
Shaw ran for 20 yards on the initial play following the turnover before Lattimore took an inside handoff 29 yards for a score along the right sideline for a 7-0 Gamecocks lead late in the opening quarter.
Adam Yates capped off a 14-play, 66-yard drive on South Carolina's following trek with a 20-yard field goal before Vanderbilt scored 13 unanswered points to take the lead.
Matthews' 78-yard, catch-and-run for a touchdown to conclude a quick 2-play, 76-yard march, cut the deficit to 10-7 early in the second stanza.
Spear kicked a 25-yard field goal later in the second and added a 44-yarder midway through the third, which gave Vanderbilt a 13-10 edge.
It was Lattimore's ninth career 100-yard rushing game ... Lattimore added three receptions for 21 yards ... The Gamecocks were picked in the preseason top 10 for the first time in school history ... Spurrier improved to 22-1 all-time in season openers as a collegiate head coach ... Shaw has won nine of his 10 career starts ... Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy had 13 rushes for 48 yards.
08/30 23:42:31 ET