(Saturday, November 12th)
Final Score: (15) South Carolina 17, Florida 12
Columbia, SC (Sports Network) - Connor Shaw ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns, as 15th-ranked South Carolina used a strong ground game to beat Florida, 17-12, in an SEC Eastern contest at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Shaw attempted only 12 passes and completed six of them for 81 yards, with one interception. But his rushing performance complemented Brandon Wilds, who ran for 120 yards on 29 carries in the Gamecocks' victory.
"We came in with more of a passing attack," Shaw said. "Florida played a lot of cover one against other teams, but against us they came out in basically the same thing Tennessee did, just a big zone, and forced us to run the ball, and I think we proved that we can."
South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC) rebounded from last week's loss at Arkansas, and is still in contention for the division title. Georgia beat Auburn later Saturday to improve to 6-1 in SEC play, and can win the division by beating Kentucky next week. A loss would give South Carolina the title.
Jacoby Brissett ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown for Florida (5-5, 3-5), which has dropped five of six. His score was set up by a long run by Chris Rainey, who totaled 132 yards on the ground.
Florida had a chance to win thanks to a strong defensive effort in the second half, but its offense struggled throughout the game.
John Brantley was sacked and fumbled the ball away on the Gators' second play from scrimmage, and Florida's first points came after a failed goal-line opportunity.
The Gators had 1st-and-goal at the South Carolina two-yard line later in the first quarter, but Jeff Demps was dropped for a loss on two consecutive plays, and Caleb Sturgis came out to kick a 21-yard field goal.
Florida didn't reach South Carolina's side of the field for the rest of the half, allowing the Gamecocks to assume control.
After South Carolina kicker Jay Wooten missed a 40-yard try two plays into the second quarter, the Gamecocks reached the end zone with two prolonged touchdown drives.
They followed the same rush-heavy plan both times. During the first, Wilds ran for 29 yards on three consecutive plays to bring the ball to the Florida 10. Two plays later, Shaw reached the end zone to make it a 7-3 game with 7:07 left.
Demps fumbled the ball away during Florida's next drive, giving South Carolina the ball at the Gators' 46. Wilds again carried the load, rushing six times for 29 yards to help bring the ball to the one. Shaw then got across the goal line with 31 seconds to play.
Together, the possessions lasted 22 plays, covered 108 yards and used nearly 10 minutes of game time.
"They did a few things in the first half that we had not seen before," said Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins. "We came into halftime, drew it up on the board, and got to where we needed to be."
Florida held the ball for even longer during the third quarter, but had only three points to show for the lengthy possessions.
Sturgis' 24-yard field goal midway through the quarter ended a 10-play march that lasted 5:26, and the Gators punted shortly into the fourth quarter, ending a drive that drained more than six minutes off the clock.
They did face bad field possession during that possession, starting at their own four-yard line. But they needed 12 plays to go a total of 45 yards, forced to punt after Brantley was sacked for a 12-yard loss.
By contrast, Florida's next possession resulted in a quick score because of Rainey. The running back used quick cuts and bursts of speed to weave up the field, and didn't score only because Gamecocks defensive back Stephon Gilmore brought him down from behind at the two.
The 47-yard gain set up Brissett's touchdown run, bringing Florida within 14-12 with 11:23 to play. The Gators' two-point conversion attempt failed when Brissett's pass was intercepted in the end zone.
That was a rare show of efficiency by Florida.
After Wooten kicked a 28-yard field goal, the Gators used a series of Rainey runs to advance onto South Carolina's side of the field. But Brantley was then tackled for a loss, threw a pass for a loss, and tossed a pass incomplete.
Florida had one last chance with 42 seconds to play, when it took over at its own 11. But the Gators never reached midfield, and Brantley was sacked on the game's final play.
Brantley finished with 119 yards on 13-of-21 completions...South Carolina has won two consecutive games against Florida, having beaten the Gators in Gainesville last season. Florida still leads the all-time series, 23-6-3, and is 17-3 against South Carolina since the Gamecocks started playing in the SEC in 1992.
11/12 19:54:54 ET