ATHENS, Ga. -- The Marcus Lattimore of 2011 against Georgia looked a lot like the Lattimore from a year ago, but Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham insisted that his unit performed better against the South Carolina star a second time around.
Lattimore rushed for 182 yards on 37 carries and two touchdowns in South Carolina's 17-6 win a year ago in Columbia. The 6-foot, 232-pound sophomore had 176 yards and a score on 27 runs during Saturday's 45-42 shootout won by the Gamecocks.
"I didn't see the double-digit runs like I saw last year," Grantham said. "He's a good back and is going to make his plays."
After being held relatively in check with 82 yards through three quarters, Lattimore had 13 carries for 94 yards in the fourth. His longest was a 36-yarder to Georgia's 2-yard line that set up his 3-yard score with 3:28 remaining, putting the Gamecocks ahead to stay at 38-35.
His long late run helped bump his average to 6.5 yards per carry, which topped his 4.9-yard average in last year's matchup.
The final score reflects that Georgia allowed 45 points, but the Gamecocks scored twice on defense and once on special teams. They also returned a fumble 56 yards to Georgia's 5-yard line to set up another touchdown.
"We've got to have those plays go our way," junior inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. "We were getting off the field and having some success. We've just got to move on from here and realize we could have a good team if we got those things to go our way.
"I thought we dominated the line of scrimmage for the most part, but I want those big plays back."
Bacarri Rambo and Brandon Boykin had interceptions for Georgia, but Boykin dropped a potential interception for a touchdown late in the first quarter.
"I was coming up to make the tackle, and I didn't expect it to go through his hands like that," Boykin said. "I just threw mine up in reaction. My gloves are brand new, so they kind of stuck a little bit, but it hit my helmet because it was coming so fast."
South Carolina finished with 395 yards, but Melvin Ingram's 68-yard score off a fake punt is included in that. The Bulldogs failed to sack Boise State's Kellen Moore last week but got to Stephen Garcia twice.
Though it wasn't a defensive performance to remember, Grantham at least saw improvement over last week and last year.
"Our guys took the game plan and executed it, and we've just got to continue to develop the consistency," he said. "I like the attitude of our players and the attitude of our team. I see mental and physical toughness, and when I compare this year's game to last year's game, I see guys who are mentally tough and getting ticked off when things don't go well."
Head coach Mark Richt said he and Grantham debated whether to kick deep to the Gamecocks with 2:13 remaining and all three timeouts but that the two received word that Robinson would not be able to continue, so they chose the onside kick.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...