Rattler keeps hot hand, leads South Carolina over Mississippi State 37-30
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Spencer Rattler went 18-of-20 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns to lead South Carolina to a 37-30 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Rattler’s favorite target, Xavier Legette, caught five passes for 189 yards, including touchdowns of 76 and 75 yards for the Gamecocks (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference).
South Carolina didn’t lean on Rattler entirely. “We knew the plays would be there. But we needed to get the run game going,” coach Shane Beamer said.
And they ran they ball 47 times for 144 yards, a modest total, but nearly triple the 53 yards they averaged in the first three games.
But when South Carolina needed something, they turned to Rattler, the Oklahoma transfer who in his past seven games has finally shown why he was once one of the Sooners’ most highly touted recruits.
Rattler has thrown just 33 incomplete passes in four games this season, and 20 of them came last week against No. 1 Georgia.
Rattler credits new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggians for his accuracy “The offense, the scheme we have. It’s that simple,” he said.
Rattler also ran eight times for 43 yards. Mario Anderson was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher with 88 yards on 26 carries,
After three weeks of pounding the ball on the ground with inconsistent results, Mississippi State (2-2, 0-2) returned to the kind of Air Raid passing attack the Bulldogs used under coach Mike Leach, who died in December.
Will Rogers threw for a career best 487 yards on 30-of-48 passing with a touchdown and an interception. Lideatrick Griffin set a school record with 256 yards receiving on seven catches, including a 65-yard touchdown.
It was an encouraging outing after a 41-14 loss last week to LSU and Rogers said the Bulldogs can build on it.
“It starts with practice. You find out a lot about a person when things don’t go right,” Rogers said. “I practiced as hard as I ever practiced. Keep working on it.”
But Rogers had an interception in the red zone and a fumble in a game where both defenses struggled to get stops. South Carolina had 99- and a 98-yard touchdown drives to open the game.
VAULTLING PEYTON (AND LEAK AND GREENE)
Rogers started the night sixth in all-time passing yards in the SEC. He finished it third.
Rogers’ 487 yards was the third best day ever for a Bulldog and gave him 11,668 yards for his career. He passed Peyton Manning of Tennessee, Chris Leak of Florida and David Greene of Georgia all in one night.
“He’s been like that since his freshman year. He’s a leader. We follow him,” Griffin said.
Mississippi State: The loss put the Bulldogs in a hole in the SEC. They will need to find two SEC wins somewhere to continue their streak of 13 straight seasons going to a bowl. Maybe getting back to passing is the answer? Mississippi State gained 519 yards, by far their best against a Football Bowl Subdivision team this season.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks needed a win in a tough September and got it. With Clemson left on the non-conference schedule, South Carolina could need four SEC wins to get to a bowl. And if Rattler continues to play at this high of a level, that is well in reach.
The Gamecocks retired receiver Alshon Jeffery’s No. 1 jersey at halftime.
Jeffery caught 183 passes for 3,042 yards in three seasons for the Gamecocks. But he appeared to be heading to Southern Cal before Beamer — a key recruiter under then-coach Steve Spurrier — wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“He’s someone that I love and care for deeply,” Beamer said.
The coach also used Jeffery’s story to make a pitch.
“For all recruits in the state of South Carolina, learn from Alshon, stay home and play for the University of South Carolina,” Beamer said.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs host No. 13 Alabama next Saturday night.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are at No, 23 Tennessee next Saturday night.
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