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September 16, 2012

Lattimore sets record, ties another

Junior running back Marcus Lattimore set one school record and tied another during South Carolina's 49-6 victory over UAB on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium that improved the Gamecocks to 3-0 for the third straight year.

En route to rushing for 85 yards on 12 carries, Lattimore scored his 34th career touchdown in 23 games on a 2-yard run shortly before halftime. The TDs are the most in school history. While doing so, he also became just the fifth player in school history to score more than 200 career points, joining Collin Mackie (330 points), Ryan Succop (251), George Rogers (202) and Reed Morton (201) in that exclusive group.

South Carolina hosted UAB on Saturday and Gamecock Central was there in force to bring you the very best coverage.
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Lattimore needed just 23 games to establish a new mark for career touchdowns. Rogers (1977-80) and Green (1986-89) each played four season with the Gamecocks.

"It is something that I found out like a week ago, and it's a big accomplishment," Lattimore said. "Just to be mentioned with George Rogers and Harold Green is crazy and I'm glad I broke it."

Lattimore started the night with 198 career points, so his second-quarter touchdown gave him 204 points, propelling him past Rogers and Morton into third place on the school's all-time list. Lattimore has already scored four touchdowns in 2012, giving him 24 points at the quarter pole.

Through three games, Lattimore leads USC in rushing with 235 yards (78.3 yards per game), putting him on pace for 940 yards by the conclusion of the regular season.

"Around this time last year I was playing, but three weeks later I tore my knee up," Lattimore said. "All the hard work and dedication I put in just to get back on the field and to have a big accomplishment like that feels good."

Lattimore's 85 yards increased his career rushing total to 2,250 yards on 460 carries. He moved past Mike Davis (2,231 yards; 2005-08) and Warren Muir (2,234 yards; 1967-69) into 11th place on USC's all-time rushing list. His next target? Cory Boyd (2003-07) with 2,267 yards.

Lattmore is trying to become only the fourth running back in school history to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards.

Coming into Saturday's game, Lattimore had been tied with Rogers and Green with 33 touchdowns. He is now tied with Rogers and Green for most career rushing touchdowns with 31. As long as he stays healthy, it's only a matter of time before he breaks that record too.

"That was neat for Marcus to get the most touchdowns," USC coach Steve Spurrier said. "He's the career leader in touchdowns around here and hadn't played but about two seasons. He's had a lot bigger games than tonight. Hopefully, he'll be ready when these big games start rolling around next week. I think he'll be ready to do this thing."

Most of Lattimore's yards came in the second half when he had four carries for 56 yards, an average of 14.0 yards per attempt. However, he averaged just 3.6 yards in the first half.

"We'll have to go back and watch the tape," Spurrier said. "I thought we could at least get him to the line of scrimmage, but it seemed like at times we had a bad play on or something. It got better in the second half for some reason. We had some pretty good blocking there at the end when Mike Davis had some nice runs. He's a good back."

SEC SEASON STARTS: The victory over UAB sets the stage for a seven-game stretch against SEC opponents, starting next week with a nationally televised home affair against Missouri on CBS. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. The kickoff time for the Sept. 29 road game at woeful Kentucky, which fell 32-31 in overtime to Western Kentucky on Saturday, should be announced on Monday.

"We'll enjoy this one tonight and start to get ready for our conference games that really begin next week starting with Missouri, Kentucky and on down the line," Spurrier said. "The real SEC season is getting ready to start. We feel very thankful and fortunate we got a win over Vanderbilt. Hopefully we can play better next week."

ELLINGTON LEADS RECEIVERS: After a quiet opener at Vanderbilt, Bruce Ellington has awoken in the past two weeks with nine receptions for 161 yards in the impressive wins over East Carolina and UAB. In the romp past the Blazers, the Berkeley High School graduate collected a team-high five receptions for 98 yards, including a 43-yard pass from Dylan Thompson that set up USC's first second-half score.

Ellington leads USC in receptions (nine) and is second behind Damiere Byrd (188) in receiving yardage (161). He suffered a mild shoulder injury in Saturday's game but should be able to play in the first home SEC contest of the season against Missouri.

"I'm just out there running my routes and as a receiver, I have to run my routes good because every time I look back I think the ball is coming to me," Ellington said. "Dylan did a great job of staying in the pocket and also Connor (Shaw) did a great job at throwing the ball. Dylan has a lot of confidence in his game. Hopefully, he'll keep going to help the team win."

NO CRITICISM OF FANS THIS WEEK: Spurrier couldn't find fault with those fans who left Williams-Brice Stadium prior to the end of the game on Saturday. UAB ran 79 plays compared to 58 for USC and the contest lasted 3:22.

"That was a long game," Spurrier said. "I didn't know if the fans wanted to leave in the middle of the fourth quarter, but I was ready to leave with them."

OFFENSE: QB Connor Shaw, RB Marcus Lattimore, TE Justice Cunningham, TE Rory Anderson, WR Ace Sanders, WR Bruce Ellington, LT Mike Matulis, LG A.J. Cann, C T.J. Johnson, RG Ronald Patrick, RT Cody Gibson
DEFENSE: DE Devin Taylor, DT Byron Jerideau, DT Kelcy Quarles, DE Jadeveon Clowney, MLB Reginald Bowens, WLB Shaq Wilson, SPR DeVonte Holloman, CB Victor Hampton, SS Brison Williams, FS D.J. Swearinger, CB Jimmy Legree

SEC RESULTS (Saturday)
South Carolina 49, UAB 6
Auburn 31, Louisiana-Monroe 28 (OT)
Vanderbilt 58, Presbyterian 0
Alabama 52, Arkansas 0
Texas A&M 48, SMU 3
Florida 37, Tennessee 20
Mississippi State 30, Troy 24
Missouri 24, Arizona State 20
Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31 (OT)
Georgia 56, Florida Atlantic 20
LSU 63, Idaho 14
Texas 66, Ole Miss 31

SEC EAST STANDINGS: Florida 2-0, USC 1-0, Georgia 1-0, Kentucky 0-0, Tennessee 0-1, Missouri 0-1, Vanderbilt 0-1

* Since Shaw started the game, he gets credit for the victory, improving his career record to 10-1, the best record after 11 games in school history.

* After coming into the season with minimal experience, Thompson has thrown for 507 yards and five touchdowns in the first three games, and has completed 52 percent (26-of-50) of his passes. He is averaging 169.0 passing yards per game. On Saturday, Thompson had 177 passing yards on just five completions. "He settled in and made some beautiful throws," Spurrier said. "He hit Damiere on the money and hit Bruce on the deep one and hit Shaq on the post route. We had a lot of big plays."

* USC was 6-of-12 on third downs, while UAB was 5-of-19. After three games, Gamecock opponents are converting 25.5 percent of third-down chances (12-of-47).

* By rushing for 84 yards on Saturday, freshman Mike Davis moved into second place on the USC rushing list with 98 yards. He has not lost a yard in seven carries so far this season. "We've seen it in practice all preseason," Lattimore said. "Everybody knows he's going to be a great back. He got his shot tonight. There's more to come in the future. Gamecock fans should be excited about him."

* After 11 different receivers caught a pass last week, eight registered a catch against UAB. But only two - Ellington (five) and Ace Sanders (four) - had multiple catches. Ellington and Sanders each earned game balls from Spurrier. Sanders had one touchdown on a "beautiful play," Spurrier said.

* When Landon Ard booted the opening kickoff just 53 yards, he was replaced by Adam Yates, who averaged 64 yards on seven kickoffs with six touchbacks.

* Spurrier again downplayed his 200 wins as a college coach: "Two hundred wins, I don't know what to say about it. I have 47 others (in the professional leagues) so it sort of blends in. I can assure you the others were just as important as the ones in college. They all sort of blend in. I'm hoping for 201 next week."

* Spurrier is 46-0 against schools from outside the BCS conferences, including a 20-0 mark since coming to USC.

* USC extended its non-conference winning streak to 14 games.

* USC is 22-3 in its last 25 home games.

* Saturday's 43-point win means USC should be ranked in the Top 10 for the fifth straight week, back to last season.

* Middle linebacker Reginald Bowens was shaken up on the first play from scrimmage but jogged off the field and shortly returned to action. Bowens served as one of the team captains along with Ellington, Byron Jerideau and D.L. Moore.

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