BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU freshman Jeremy Hill announced his arrival as a big-time running back with both tackle-breaking power and breakaway speed on a 50-yard scoring run that was too much for South Carolina to overcome.
Hills finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns in his breakout performance, and the ninth-ranked Tigers handed No. 3 South Carolina its first loss of the season, 23-21, on Saturday night.
LSU (6-1 overall, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) substantially outgained South Carolina (6-1, 4-1) 406 yards to 211, but struggled to find the end zone. Three times, LSU settled for field goals after driving at least as far as the 5-yard line, and another drive to the South Carolina 15 stalled on a missed field goal.
But Hill’s long score with 5:03 remaining gave LSU a nine-point lead that proved to be just enough cushion for the Tigers.
Connor Shaw drove South Carolina for a late TD on a short pass to Bruce Ellington with 1:41 to go, and the Gamecocks got the ball once more with 35 seconds left, but LSU’s defense held up.
Zach Mettenberger had the latest in a string of inconsistent performances for LSU but made enough big throws to sustain scoring drives. He completed 21 of 25 throws for 148 yards. He had one costly interception returned 70 yards by Jimmy Legree, setting up South Carolina’s first TD.
Shaw finished 19 of 34 for 177 yards and two TDs, but was intercepted twice, once by Eric Reid to set up LSU’s go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter, and then on the final desperate play by Craig Loston.
LSU’s second field goal cut South Carolina’s lead to 14-13 early in the fourth quarter, then LSU was back in scoring range when Shaw overthrew an open receiver directly to Reid.
Reid returned it to the South Carolina 22, then LSU drove to the 5 before settling for its third field goal to take a 16-14 lead.
Marcus Lattimore had a quiet night by his standards, gaining 35 yards on 13 carries, but he gave the Gamecocks a 14-10 lead in the third quarter when he broke Reid’s tackle on a 2-yard scoring run.