Marcus Lattimore was stood up, forward progress halted, on the Florida 5-yard line.
Then, his linemen ran up behind him and pushed him into the end zone for his third score of the game — the cherry on top of South Carolina’s 36-14 victory.
It was the perfect end to the night — even when UF stopped Lattimore, it couldn’t really stop Lattimore.
South Carolina’s freshman workhorse rushed 40 times for 212 yards and three scores, all career highs.
It was the third time this season Lattimore went over 180 yards (Georgia and Tennessee) and the second time he went over 35 carries (Georgia).
“We needed to have great run defense, and we didn’t,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said.
UF’s front seven couldn’t contain USC’s powerful ground game from start to finish, as Lattimore ran to build a lead and then maintain it.
Kentucky’s Derrick Locke held the previous high rushing total against UF’s defense this season, going for 103 on the ground in a 48-14 blowout loss.
The 6-foot, 218-pound back ran for 83 yards in the first half Saturday, breaking tackles and dragging defenders for extra yards. Lattimore’s physical running style was too much for the Gators’ defense.
“He did a great job running through tackles and a good job getting north and south,” Austin said. “We didn’t do a good job tackling.”
Austin said his team did a great job getting off the field last week against Vanderbilt, when the Gators allowed the Commodores to convert only twice in 16 opportunities on third down.
Behind Lattimore, the Gamecocks converted eight of 16 attempts on third down and dominated time of possession 40:46 to 19:14.
UF coach Urban Meyer didn’t put all of Lattimore’s success on his defense, saying the time of possession was too much to overcome.
“We have to help those guys out,” Meyer said of his offense.
In addition to South Carolina controlling the clock with its run game, Florida’s offense couldn’t stay on the field and sustain a drive to give the defense a much-needed break.
The Gators went three-and-out on four of their first six drives and didn’t have a drive of more than five plays until the fourth quarter.
UF entered the third quarter with 67 total yards and three first downs.
Those offensive statistics, paired with Florida’s up-tempo offense, allowed South Carolina to control the ball for most of the game.