LEXINGTON, Ky. — Marcus Lattimore ran for two touchdowns and Connor Shaw passed for another in the second half as No. 6 South Carolina scored 31 straight points for a 38-17 victory against Kentucky on Saturday night.
Shaw was 15 of 18 for 148 yards as the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 SEC) moved into a tie with Florida and Georgia atop the East division, with the Bulldogs coming to Columbia next week.
Lattimore rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and Kenny Miles added a 17-yard score for South Carolina, which trailed Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) 17-7 after a ragged first half.
The Gamecocks returned to score on five of six possessions thanks to Shaw, who hit Damiere Byrd with a 30-yard touchdown before Miles’ TD put them ahead to stay.
Kentucky freshman Jalen Whitlow was 12 of 23 for 114 yards in relief of Maxwell Smith, who was knocked out on the first series with an ankle injury.
Smith was tackled low by Byron Jerideau. His cleats appeared to be caught in the turf and he immediately grabbed his left ankle.
That again forced Whitlow into an emergency situation but the difference this time was the freshman’s weeklong preparation.
It didn’t show immediately as he was quickly sacked after replacing Smith, but after the defense twice denied Shaw on two runs at the 1, Whitlow made the work pay off.
Kentucky went 94 yards in 16 plays, helped by Raymond Sanders’ 28-yard run and two by Jonathan George for 25 yards. Whitlow, with great protection, chipped in a 20-yard pass to DeMarco Robinson before Sanders got the Wildcats down to the 5 and settled for Craig McIntosh’s 22-yard field goal and an early lead.
South Carolina eventually regrouped to lead 7-3 as Shaw led a 64-yard drive helped by his 37-yard pass to a wide-open Ace Sanders, who added a 3-yard touchdown reception two plays later.
Kentucky scored on its next two drives covering 67 and 34 yards, the latter of which was set up by its special teams as Daron Blaylock leaped over the protection to block Tyler Hull’s punt that A.J. Legree recovered.
Whitlow’s passing and running got the Wildcats a 10-7 lead, connecting with Legree twice for 26 yards followed by two runs covering the final 12, including an 8-yard scoring scramble.
Raymond Sanders’ 10-yard run made it 17-7 with 1:52 left in the half.