COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw three touchdowns and ran for another score, and South Carolina (No. 13 BCS, No. 17 AP) overcame the loss of tailback Marcus Lattimore for a 38-35 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
Tyler Bray had driven the Vols to South Carolina's 19 with 1:08 left when he was hit from behind by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The ball popped loose and linebacker Shaq Wilson recovered.
Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) forced a punt and got the ball back with 36 seconds to go, but Victor Hampton intercepted a long pass from Bray to close it out for South Carolina.
More pressing, though, is the apparent loss of Lattimore to a serious injury. The junior was taken to a hospital after hurting his right knee in the second quarter.
"Obviously, Marcus has a severe knee injury, but we'll let the doctors" give the details, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.
Shaw finished with a career-high 356 yards passing and the Gamecocks rolled up 510 yards after managing only 368 combined the previous two weeks in losses at LSU and Florida. Tight end Justice Cunningham had six catches for 108 yards and receiver Bruce Ellington had six catches for 101 yards as South Carolina won three straight over the Vols for the first time in a series that began in 1903.
Bray passed for 368 yards and four touchdowns, three to Zach Rogers.
The Gamecocks were looking to get their offense back on track and Lattimore was a huge part of that plan. He had been slowed by a hip bruise sustained at LSU two weeks ago, limiting him to just three carries in a 44-11 loss at Florida last Saturday. But Spurrier said he was at 100 percent and ready to once again carry the load for South Carolina.
And Lattimore was doing just that, gaining 65 yards in The Opening half, including a 28-yard burst for his 41st career touchdown at South Carolina. Everything stopped at Williams-Brice Stadium when Lattimore lay on the turf after a 2-yard pickup right before halftime.
Lattimore was wrapped up from behind by linebacker Herman Lathers as defensive back Eric Gordon came in at the knees. Lattimore's body whipped around, his right leg slamming against the ground.
Trainers immediately rushed out to South Carolina's star, holding him against the ground as he tried to lift up and see what was going on. Lattimore appeared to be sobbing in pain.
After several minutes, Tennessee players came out to wish Lattimore well. South Carolina's players, coaches and staff soon followed and the group surrounded Lattimore as trainers lifted him onto the cart. The crowd chanted Lattimore's name as the cart pulled away, Lattimore's head covered with a towel heading toward the locker room.
Spurrier said as he ran off the field after the victory the Gamecocks were likely to have to cobble together an attack minus Lattimore as they did a season ago. Lattimore had missed the final six games of the 2011 season because of ligament damage to his right knee when a Mississippi State player rolled up on him as he was blocking downfield.
Lattimore needed surgery and about six months of rehabilitation before he was cleared to return to the field.
The Gamecocks relied on veteran Kenny Miles and first-year player Brandon Wilds to make up for Lattimore's absence a year ago. Miles filled in for Lattimore in the second half against the Vols, but Wilds has not played this season because of injury.
Freshman Mike Davis has played sparingly in seven games and should also see more playing time without Lattimore.
South Carolina looked in control most of the half, scoring on three of its first four possessions. Shaw threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Bruce Ellington and 26-yards to Rory Anderson before Lattimore's TD run.
Tennessee cut the lead to 21-14 on Bray's 37-yard scoring throw to Zach Rogers, the duo's second TD pass of the half. But Shaw ended a 10-play drive on a 1-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left before the half to restore the Gamecocks' two-touchdown lead.
Bray and the Vols nearly pulled off the comeback down the stretch when Rogers hauled in a 22-yard pass in the end zone to bring Tennessee within a field goal. But Clowney's sack and Hampton's late pick saved things for South Carolina.
It's the third straight season Tennessee has opened 0-5 in the SEC.