South Carolina notched what was arguably the biggest win in program history two years ago defeating Florida 36-14 at The Swamp. The win gave the Gamecocks its first SEC East title and a spot in the conference championship game. In this Daily 5, we take a look back at the top plays from that game to give head coach Steve Spurrier a blowout win over his alma mater.
Fast start -- for the Gators
In atypical Spurrier fashion, South Carolina won the toss and elected to kick off. Spurrier said after the game some of the players told him they wanted to start out on defense, the Head Ball Coach listened, and then vowed not to listen again. Andre Dubose took the opening kick 99 yards for a touchdown and there wasn’t a Gamecock anywhere close. The play gave the Gators some confidence but South Carolina showed its resiliency. The Gamecocks responded marching down the field but had to settle for a field goal. It was one of three that kicker Spencer Lanning would drill in the game. Following that return, the Gators were hardly a threat to score while the game was still on the line.
Lattimore punches it in
Running back Marcus Lattimore had what many feel was the best game of his career in the victory rushing 40 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He had room to run most of the game and he was able to shed tacklers and scoot all around the park. Then a freshman, Lattimore signified his arrival to the game early with a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle in which he went untouched for the score. Lattimore had 83 yards in the first half of play and completely took over the game in the second half. He punctuated the opening drive of the third quarter with a 21-yard touchdown run over the left side in which he was untouched until right at the goal line. He then bullied his way across the line, with the help of a big push from his linemen, to close out the game. It would be impossible to just pick a couple of runs as Lattimore averaged over five yards per carry on the night and gave a couple of Gator chomps as the final seconds wound down.
Gilmore with the INT
Maybe it was my own worrisome nature but the game was still up in the air late in the third quarter. Sure, the Gators hadn’t been able to move the ball on offense while the Gamecocks marched up and down the field seemingly at will but it was still only a two-touchdown game at 22-7 late in the third quarter. Spurrier often talks about how kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns can come back to haunt a team and the Gamecocks had settled for field goals a lot of the night. Florida had the ball with :43 left in the third quarter and all they needed was one magical quarter of football to go to the Georgia Dome - again - and play for the title. Then a sophomore, cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted a pass from Florida quarterback Jeff Brantley that was deflected at the line of scrimmage. The future first rounder returned it to the Florida 28-yard line to put the Gamecocks’ offense in prime position to score. The short field set up one of the greatest moments that quarterback Stephen Garcia had in a South Carolina uniform.
Garcia’s great game
Garcia was most known for (at least on the field) his level of play against Alabama. One of his career-defining moments came on a third-and-goal play from the eight-yard line. A tough runner throughout his career and having a big night on the ground against the Gators, the Lutz, Fla. native took off between the tackles looking for the end zone. Safety Will Hill, one of Florida’s top defensive players, met him at the goal line. Garcia, as he was known to do, used his head as a battering ram and plowed through Hill and across the goal line. Garcia hopped to his feet, let out an enormous scream that could be heard over the rustling of 90,000-plus gathering their belongings, and gave the Gamecocks a lead that would not be threatened.
Spurrier carried across the field
The game wasn’t in doubt in the fourth quarter after Garcia’s touchdown but Lattimore punctuated the game with his third touchdown with less than three minutes remaining to give the Gamecocks a 36-14 win. Spurrier joked after the game that he had to coach the players on how to celebrate a championship. He stood on the sideline bracing for his Gatorade bath. As the purple sports drink rolled off of his pullover, he was lifted by offensive linemen Garrett Chisolm and Kyle Nunn and carried to midfield for his handshake with UF coach Urban Meyer.
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