NASHVILLE, Tenn.-South Carolina's Stephen Garcia threw for 355 yards and two scores, and tailback Brian Maddox added 146 and a score on the ground, as the Gamecocks spoiled Vanderbilt's homecoming, beating the Commodores 21-7 at Dudley Field on Saturday evening.
The Commodores employed a "bend-but-don't-break" approach defensively, but it broke twice too often with as a virtually non-existent offense couldn't keep Carolina off the field.
Maddox scored on a 2-yard run with 3:17 left in the third quarter to break open a tie game, and Garcia hit Alshon Jeffery with a 72-yard scoring toss with 6:41 left to ice the game.
The Commodores (2-5, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) managed just 70 yards in the second half, while the Gamecocks-who were on the field for 19:24 in the second half-rolled up 315 after the break.
"We didn't get it done. We played a lot better [than last week's 43-point loss to Georgia]. Very proud of our defense. What a job they did, getting after it," VU coach Robbie Caldwell said.
"Offensively, we moved the ball in the first half, thought we had some things going, and they made some adjustments and shut us down. Very disappointed in that aspect of it."
The Commodores led 7-0 courtesy of Smith's 3-yard, second-quarter touchdown run, but Carolina mounted a 59-yard drive that took under a minute and ended with Garcia's 15-yard touchdown toss to a wide-open Tori Gurley that tied the game just 12 seconds before half.
It was VU's best offensive half in SEC play, with the 'Dores gaining 180 yards to Carolina's 169.
But the second half was the same offensively that Commodore fans have been familiar with for the last four years. VU held the ball for just 10:36 in the second half, had just three first downs, and never threatened to score.
"They loaded up the front, moved the fronts, kept moving constantly. We had a freshman center in there-a true freshman-and he didn't get the ball off on time, missed the snap counts, didn't get the ball off on time," Caldwell said, referring to first-time starter Logan Stewart, a South Carolina native.
"He did a pretty good job, considering he was a freshman, but it was a little complicated and didn't work out for him. The game got a little too fast."
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks took advantage of a VU pass defense that left plenty of cushion on the corners, as Garcia picked VU apart for 31 completions in 39 attempts, including 14-of-17 in the second half.
Part of that was due to lack of a pass rush; the 'Dores sacked Garcia four times on a variety of blitz packages in the first half, but were unable to get to him in the second half.
Maddox's run capped a 12-play, 93-yard drive after punter Richard Kent had pinned the Gamecocks deep in their own territory.
Jeffery's catch came on the second play of a 72-yard drive. Garcia escaped pressure, rolled right, found him open in coverage, and when Jamie Graham couldn't make a tackle, he sprinted down the right sideline for the game's longest play.
With an offense that's scored nine offensive touchdowns in its last 13 conference games spanning back to the last SEC game of 2008, Caldwell acknowledged that changes are needed in offensive personnel and schemes, though he declined to name specifics.
"I don't know. I've got several things [in mind]. You'll see 'em next week, hopefully. We've got to do something different. We've got to maintain some clock and do some things. We'll make some adjustments," he said.
"We just weren't executing, we were making stupid plays. Everybody. We had missed assignments at bad times. I don't think it was really the play-calling, I think it was just really us making untimely mistakes. False starts, stuff like that. We can't have that happen," said left tackle Wesley Johnson.
Next week's game comes at Arkansas, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Central. The Razorbacks are 5-2 after knocking off Ole Miss on Saturday.