A tough Vanderbilt defense that would sack and harass South Carolina quarterbacks all day gained three turnovers in the first quarter to help the Commodores build their lead. D.J. Moore got things going with an interception of South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley to give Vanderbilt the ball at the USC 23-yard-line. After coming up a yard short on fourth down the Commodores settled on a 32-yard Bryant Hahnfeldt field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Vanderbilt safety Ryan Hamilton then snared a C. Boyd fumble on USC's ensuing drive to give the Commodores a golden opportunity at the South Carolina 24-yard-line. Three plays later Mackenzi Adams, who was starting his first game ever as a quarterback for Vandy, completed a 22-yard scoring pass to George Smith. Vanderbilt led 10-0 with 6:43 remaining in the first quarter.
After the Vanderbilt defense held the stagnant South Carolina offense again it was time to watch Adams run past the Gamecocks. Adams led Vanderbilt on a 5-play, 57-yard drive in which he rushed for 45 yards. A 20-yard pass to Justin Wheeler put the Commodores up 17-0 with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Vanderbilt defense continued to pressure South Carolina's Smelley and Black Mitchell, who saw limited action. However, the Gamecocks did manage to get six points on two Ryan Succop field goals to narrow the score to 17-6 at the half.
In the second half the two team's defenses dominated the show as Vanderbilt and South Carolina combined to punt eight times. South Carolina twice failed to convert on fourth down attempts as the Commodore defense stiffened and held. Back to back sacks by Marcus Buggs and Curtis Gatewood deep in the fourth quarter doomed a late Gamecock possession and the home fans started to head for the exits.
Then, after the Vanderbilt offense burned more time off the clock, South Carolina was down to their final possession. Smelley completed two passes and but threw incomplete on third and fourth down to give Vanderbilt the ball at the South Carolina 15-yard-line with 2:07 remaining. Vanderbilt then ran the clock out as the Commodore team erupted into celebration.
The Vanderbilt defense finished with seven sacks, the most ever for the Commodores since records have been kept. Vanderbilt previously had 6 sacks in an earlier this season in a 31-17 win over Ole Miss. The last time Vanderbilt defeated such a highly ranked opponent was in 1937 when the Commodores beat No. 6 LSU. It was Vanderbilt's first win in 15 tries over Steve Spurrier.
Vanderbilt improved to 4-3 (2-3 SEC) with the win. The Commodores host Miami (Ohio) on Saturday. South Carolina falls to 6-2 (3-2 SEC) and travels to Tennessee on Saturday.