for this game

Early turnovers help Vanderbilt shock South Carolina

Oct 20, 2007 - 10:07 PM COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Two early turnovers dug a hole that South Carolina could not find its way out of.

The sixth-ranked Gamecocks committed two of their four turnovers inside the opening seven minutes en route to being upset by Vanderbilt, 17-6, in a Southeastern Conference shocker on Saturday.

South Carolina (6-2, 3-2 SEC East) came into the contest on a three-game winning streak and having a chance to solidify its hold on the top spot in the SEC East Division.

However, turnovers did in the Gamecocks, who saw their seven-game winning streak in the series with the Commodores come to a crashing halt.

"I'm proud of the effort of our team," said Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson, whose team captured a win over an opponent as high as sixth for the first time in 70 years.

"They played extremely hard and tried to execute the game plan while they were out there. I thought we played extremely aggressive on defense. On offense, I thought we were efficient enough to get some points on the board."

After holding Vanderbilt (4-3, 2-3 East) scoreless on its opening drive, South Carolina coughed up the ball on its fourth offensive play when redshirt freshman Chris Smelley was intercepted by cornerback D.J. Moore at the Gamecocks' 23.

Although the Commodores were held without a first down, Bryant Hahnfeldt converted a 32-yard field goal to open the scoring.

On the ensuing kickoff, South Carolina's Chris Culliver fumbled, but the Gamecocks were able recover.

They did not have such good luck on the next play, as running back Cory Boyd lost a fumble, giving Vanderbilt more outstanding field position at the 24-yard line.

While the Commodores were once again unable to get a first down, it did not quite matter as Mackenzi Adams fired a 22-yard touchdown pass to George Smith on a 3rd-and-8 for a 10-0 advantage.

South Carolina, which was held without a touchdown for the first time in 19 games, had more trouble handling a kickoff in a brutal first half where it was unable to break past the midfield line until late in the second quarter.

On one possession in the first-quarter, the Gamecocks were pinned at their own 2-yard line on a punt.

They were unable to pick up a first down, once again leading to a short field for the Commodores, who cashed in with a 20-yard scoring play from Adams to Justin Wheeler for a 17-0 advantage 22 seconds prior to the second quarter.

South Carolina attempted to rally before halftime, but were held to a pair of field goals by Ryan Succop after getting into the red zone to account for its only offense.

The second half was not much better for the Gamecocks, who managed just one more red zone appearance in the third - getting intercepted on a throw to the end zone.

"It was one of those days," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We started inside the three-yard line three or four times. We intercepted on the one-yard line and I thought we were going to have a 99-yard drive, but we kicked the field goal on that drive. We couldn't score in the red zone."

It was one of three interceptions for the Commodores, who also had seven sacks and limited the Gamecocks to 1-for-12 on third-down conversions.

"We were aggressive on defense," Johnson said. "We were bringing five at least 70 percent every play."

"You have to give Vandy credit, they played well," Smelley said. "They schemed, they blitzed. They played great on defense. They were well-prepared."

While its losing streak against South Carolina was long, Vanderbilt accomplished a bigger feat by finally ending its slump against Spurrier. The Commodores had lost the previous 14 matchups against the former Florida coach.

"I'm not shocked at losing to Vandy," Spurrier said. "They're a good team.

"We knew all along that we were sort of living on the edge at 6-1. We're not clobbering anybody. We had our chances and went backwards and couldn't score a touchdown. It's as simple as that."

Adams finished with 123 yards passing while also rushing 13 times for 84 yards to help Vanderbilt snap a two-game losing streak.

Smelley completed just 14-of-24 attempts for 154 yards and had two of the three interceptions for the Gamecocks, who finished 282 total yards.

Smelley was pulled in favor of backup Blake Mitchell, who did not do much better, going 9-for-18 for 102 yards and an interception.

"Today it didn't really matter who played quarterback," Spurrier said.