CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia came off the bench to run for two touchdowns and throw for another as he rallied the 12th-ranked Gamecocks past East Carolina 56-37 on Saturday night.
Marcus Lattimore added 112 yards and three TDs.
Garcia sat the first quarter as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier started sophomore Connor Shaw. But the Gamecocks fumbled three times, including one by Shaw, and trailed 17-0 before Garcia entered the game. That's when the offense started to click and South Carolina took control of the season opener.
Garcia had a 32-yard touchdown run his first series and when Lattimore finished the Gamecocks next drive with a 4-yard scoring run, South Carolina fans at Bank of America Stadium began chanting Garcia's name in celebration.
Garcia opened the second half with a with a 3-yard TD pass to Ace Sanders and put the Gamecocks ahead for good moments later, 28-24, with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Ace Sanders returned a Ben Ryan punt 68 yards for a touchdown to further the gap between USC and ECU to 56-31.
Marcus Lattimore punched in his 3rd touchdown of the game and second straight 1 yard score to put South Carolina up 49-31 in the fourth quarter against East Carolina.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore scored from less than a yard out to push the USC lead back to 11 at 42-31 in the third quarter.
Dominique Davis scored from 37 yards out to cut the South Carolina lead to 35-31. The Gamecocks had taken an 11 point lead when Antonio Allen returned a Michael Dobson fumble for a touchdown.
Stephen Garcia scored from 10 yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the game to put South Carolina up 28-24 versus East Carolina.
Stephen Garcia threw his first touchdown pass of the game to put South Carolina within three at 24-21. Dominique Davis has 3 touchdown passes.
Dominique Davis threw his third touchdown pass of the game with three seconds left in the first half as East Carolina took a 24-14 lead into the locker room against 12th-ranked South Carolina.
Marcus Lattimore has closed the gap for South Carolina with his 4 yard touchdown run. ECU still leads 17-14 in the second quarter.
Stephen Garcia ran for a 32 yard touchdown to put South Carolina on the scoreboard. Dominique Davis has 2 touchdown passes for the Pirates and Michael Barbour has a 24 yard field goal.
ECU has taken a 17-0 lead versus South Carolina. Dominique Davis has 2 touchdown passes. The first was a 25 yard strike to Justin Hardy. The second was a 19 yard pass to Lance Lewis. Michael Barbour added a 24 yard field goal.
ECU has taken a 7-0 lead versus South Carolina. Dominique Davis threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Justin Hardy.
The East Carolina Pirates and second-year head coach Ruffin McNeill will face off with No. 12 South Carolina tonight at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.
We'll keep you updated on the game here on witn.com with updates on this story. WITN Sports Director Billy Weaver will be at the game for coverage.
The game will be broadcast on television on Fox Sports Carolinas and on radio on WNCT 107.9.
ECU reports "the contest against the Gamecocks also represents the first of three meetings against automatic-qualifying Bowl Championship Series (BCS) members in 2011 for ECU, which next Saturday will face Virginia Tech at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium before following with an in-state rivalry clash against the North Carolina Tar Heels (Oct. 1), also in Greenville."
ECU has had 11 bowl appearances since 1990, seven since 2000 including five straight in a row.
ECU's history against the Gamecocks is a tough one. South Carolina leads 10-5, but ECU has won three out of the last four matchups.
Tonight will be the fifth time the Pirates travel to Charlotte for a "neutral site" contest.
According to ECU, "since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina has recorded a 39-54 (.419) mark when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... Prior to a 2-5 mark in 2010 (losses at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, UCF and Rice, victories at USM and UAB, and a neutral site setback to Maryland in the Military Bowl), the Pirates were 3-4 in 2009 and 5-4 in 2008 ... Outside of C-USA action, ECU has dropped nine straight (last win came in `08 vs. Virginia Tech in a familiar setting - Bank of America Stadium)."
ECU has a record of 5-21 against SEC current members.