LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Spencer Rattler overcame two early turnovers and threw the go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter, Jalen Brooks ran for an insurance score midway through the fourth and South Carolina scored 17 unanswered points to beat No. 13 Kentucky 24-14 on Saturday night for its third consecutive victory.
Kentucky started freshman Kaiya Sheron at quarterback in place of injured senior Will Levis, who wore a protective on his left foot.
MarShawn Lloyd scored a 2-yard touchdown run on the Gamecocks’ first snap, immediately after Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez Jr. fumbled on the opening play. That quickly seized momentum against the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference).
South Carolina (4-2, 1-2) moved ahead early in the third quarter, when Rattler (14 of 19, 177 yards) hit Antwane Wells Jr. in the flat and the junior darted past a defender for a 42-yard touchdown and 14-7 lead.
Mitch Jeter’s 32-yard field goal later in the period provided a 10-point cushion that Brooks extended to 17 points with a 24-yard TD run with 7:02 remaining.
Sheron (15 of 27, 178 yards) tossed a 10-yard TD pass JuTahn McClain with 2:49 left, his second of the game, but the Wildcats fell for the second consecutive week in league play.
Mystery preceded this defeat as Levis entered Kroger Field with a boot on his left foot and did not participate in warmups with teammates. Earlier this week, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops referred to a finger injury Levis sustained in last week’s 22-19 loss to No. 9 Mississippi, but didn’t mention any foot injury and remained mum on the quarterback’s status on Thursday.
Disaster quickly followed with Rodriguez’s fumble, a blocked punt and Matt Ruffolo’s missed 45-yard field goal that bounced off the left upright. Sheron regrouped to fake a toss to Rodriguez and hit wide-open Jordan Dingle for the tying touchdown in the second quarter, but Kentucky was held to its lowest output since losing 30-13 to top-ranked Georgia 30-13 last season.
COURTESY: USC GAMECOCKS ATHLETICS