Published September 21, 2014
Nashville, TN – Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Dylan Thompson had three touchdown passes and No. 14 South Carolina held off pesky Vanderbilt for a 48-34 win Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (3-1, 2-1 SEC) climbed out of an early 14-0 hole and withstood two kickoff return touchdowns by Vanderbilt's Darrius Sims -- from 91 and 100 yards.
It was Steve Spurrier's 202nd win as an SEC head coach, passing Georgia legend Vince Dooley for second place on the all-time list with only Bear Bryant ahead of him.
The Commodores (1-3, 0-2) played the last three quarters with Wade Freebeck at quarterback after Patton Robinette left the game.
Thompson passed for 237 yards and also scored a touchdown on the ground while Pharoh Cooper led all receivers with 10 catches for 114 yards and also added a 70-yard run in the game.
The Gamecocks have now won three in a row since a season-opening 52-28 loss to Texas A&M, including last week's three-point victory over then-No. 6 Georgia, which vaulted them 10 places in the AP poll.
They also got a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown from safety Brison Williams.
Freebeck threw for 168 yards and a touchdown after Robinette passed for 55 yards and a score for the Commodores, who were coming off their first win of the season last week over Massachusetts.
The Gamecocks took a 17-14 lead when Williams intercepted Freebeck and raced down the right sideline to score with 23 seconds left in the first half.
They scored on the opening drive of the second half on Thompson's 29-yard pass to Shaq Roland, but Sims found a path to the right sideline on the kickoff and raced the length of the field for his second kickoff touchdown of the game to tie an FBS record.
"It's an accomplishment," said Sims, "(but) a win would be good. It's just a stepping stone for this team. We just have to build on this. It's a tough loss, we are not proud of it, but we have to build on this."
Elliott Fry's 43-yard field goal gave South Carolina a 27-21 lead, which the Commodores cut to three points again on Tommy Openshaw's 25-yard field goal after a pass interference penalty gave them 1st-and-goal.
Thompson's 7-yard touchdown pass to Nick Jones made it 34-24 with 10 1/2 minutes left in the game and J.T. Surratt blocked Openshaw's 46-yard try at the other end.
Openshaw was good on a 30-yarder after the Commodores recovered a Thompson fumble, making it a seven-point game, but Cooper's 70-yard run set up a 1-yard touchdown from Thompson and a Vanderbilt fumble on the kickoff led to David Williams' 2-yard touchdown run for a 48-27 Gamecocks lead.
Freebeck hit Kris Kentera for a 7-yard score for Vanderbilt's last points.
Earlier, Sims slipped through the middle of the coverage untouched and raced down the right side of the field for Vanderbilt's first kickoff touchdown in three years.
The Commodores took a 14-0 lead after C.J. Duncan made a man miss around the 4-yard line on his 8-yard touchdown catch with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fry's 45-yard field goal finally got the Gamecocks on the board on the ensuing possession, and Damiere Byrd's juggling 29-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone pulled them within 14-10 with six minutes left in the first half.
South Carolina has won six in a row over Vanderbilt ... The Gamecocks will face Missouri next week and Vanderbilt plays at Kentucky ... Alabama legend Bryant had 292 wins as an SEC coach ... Byrd's touchdown catch in the second quarter was upheld after a review. Covered tightly by Tre Bell, Byrd squeezed the ball against his hips as he dragged his feet in bounds.