In his first career start, sophomore quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns to lead ninth-ranked South Carolina to a 48-10 victory over East Carolina in its home opener on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Thompson, who completed 21-of-37 pass attempts, helped South Carolina amass 528 yards of total offense, including 397 through the air.
The Gamecocks improve to 2-0 on the year and have won six consecutive contests dating back to last season. The win also gives head coach Steve Spurrier the 199th of his collegiate career. The Pirates fall to 1-1 with its second straight loss to South Carolina.
Junior running back Marcus Lattimore led the Gamecock rushing attack with 40 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He is now tied for the school record for career touchdowns with 33, matching former Gamecock greats George Rogers (1977-80) and Harold Green (1986-89). Senior Kenny Miles added 30 yards on five carries.
South Carolina had 11 different players with at least one or more receptions. Sophomore Rory Anderson led the way with career highs in receptions (four), receiving yards (90) and touchdowns (two). Sophomores Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington added 81 and 63 yards, respectively, while senior D.L. Moore had two receptions for 45 yards and two touchdowns. Junior DeAngelo Smith also had a 30-yard touchdown reception, the first of his career.
Defensively, the Gamecocks surrendered 403 yards but they made big plays for the second consecutive week, forcing five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble). South Carolina has now forced 10 turnovers in its last two meetings with the Pirates.
Quin Smith, T.J. Gurley and Jimmy Legree led the defensive effort with five tackles apiece. Legree also recorded his first career interception and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. Seniors D.J. Swearinger and Shaq Wilson and sophomore Brison Williams also came up with one interception each.
ECU starting quarterback Rio Johnson threw for 193 yards but had three interceptions. Backup Shane Carden completed 12-of-18 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while sophomore receiver Justin Hardy hauled in eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown to lead the Pirates.
The Gamecocks wasted little time putting points on the scoreboard as they found the end zone less than two minutes into the game. On the fourth play of the contest, Thompson connected with Byrd for a 53-yard pass play to the ECU 6. Lattimore took the handoff on the ensuing play and plowed his way up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run to give Carolina the early 7-0 lead.
South Carolina pushed its lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter with a five-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped off by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Anderson. Ellington and Anderson did a majority of damage on the drive, tallying 40 and 24 receiving yards, respectively.
Thompson delivered his second touchdown strike of the contest early in the second quarter, connecting with Smith in the corner of the end zone from 30 yards out to give the Gamecocks a 21-0 cushion heading into the locker room.
The Carolina defense came up big at the end of the half, forcing turnovers on three of ECU's final four possessions of the second quarter.
The defense kept its momentum going to start the second half, as Wilson stepped in front of a Carden pass at the ECU 29 for his second interception of the season. Three plays later Thompson completed a pass to Moore, who dodged defenders on his way into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 28-0 lead after the extra point by Adam Yates.
On the ensuing possession, South Carolina took complete control of the contest when Legree intercepted a Johnson pass at the ECU 34 and raced into the end zone untouched to push the Gamecocks' lead to 35-0 with 12:28 left in the third quarter.
A 23-yard field goal by ECU's Warren Harvey at the 1:44 mark of the third made it a 35-3 ballgame.
The Gamecocks added another touchdown with the help of some trickery, as receiver Ace Sanders caught a lateral and found Moore wide open for a 16-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, giving South Carolina a 41-3 lead.
After ECU scored its first touchdown on a 34-yard pass from Carden to Hardy, South Carolina capped the scoring with a 51-yard scoring strike from Seth Strickland to Anderson with less than a minute left in the contest.
The Gamecocks return to action next Saturday as they host UAB at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on FSN.