CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Garcia came off the bench to run for two touchdowns and throw for one Saturday as he led No. 12 South Carolina past East Carolina 56-37.
The Jefferson High graduate sat in the first quarter. But the Gamecocks fumbled three times, including quarterback Connor Shaw once, and trailed 17-0 before Garcia entered.
He capped his first series with a 32-yard touchdown run. Marcus Lattimore, who ran for 112 yards, capped the next one with one of his three touchdowns.
Garcia opened the second half with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ace Sanders, then put the Gamecocks ahead for good, 28-24, with a 1-yard touchdown run.
"I don't know if this was my best game as a Gamecock, but we needed this win, for sure," the fifth-year senior said, "especially for us to come back and win after that first quarter."
But coach Steve Spurrier said Garcia can and should play better than he did. Spurrier quashed the notion that the often-suspended Garcia deserved a game ball.
"I said, 'Wait a minute. When he throws for about 300 yards and brings us down the field scoring at the end of the game,' " Spurrier said.
Auburn survives scare
AUBURN, Ala. — This resembled last season's Auburn team for about three blurry minutes. Before that, the defending national champ could barely keep up with a supposedly overmatched Utah State team.
Mike Dyer bulled through the line for a game-saving touchdown with 30 seconds left and the No. 23 Tigers scored twice in the final 2:07 to escape with an opening 42-38 win.
Coach Gene Chizik's blunt assessment: "Offensively and defensively we're a long way off of being able to win very many games right now."
The Tigers pulled off their fourth comeback from a double-digit deficit in the past 13 games.
"As they've done so many times since I've been here, they found a way to come back and win," said Chizik, who played at Clearwater High and once was an assistant at Seminole.
No. 2 Alabama 48, Kent St. 7: AJ McCarron fared better in host Alabama's quarterback race, throwing for a touchdown and 226 yards. Vying with Phillip Sims, McCarron threw a 24-yard touchdown to Marquis Maze and finished 14-of-23, though with two interceptions. Sims went 7-of-14 for 73 yards and had two interceptions. Coach Nick Saban didn't name either his permanent starter: "AJ … probably played with a little more poise. But we have a lot of confidence in Phillip, and in most cases, he played extremely well."
No. 15 Ark. 51, Missouri St. 7: Tyler Wilson threw two touchdowns to Jarius Wright and Joe Adams returned two punts for touchdowns for the host Razorbacks. Wilson, Ryan Mallett's backup the previous two seasons, led Arkansas to scores on his first four possessions (sophomore Brandon Mitchell played on two first-half possessions).
BYU 14, Miss. 13: Kyle Van Noy recovered a fumble in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:09 left for the visiting Cougars. BYU trailed 13-0 in the fourth before Jake Heaps hit Ross Apo for a 19-yard touchdown with 9:52 left. On the ensuing series, BYU forced quarterback Zack Stoudt to fumble.
Tenn. 42, Montana 16: Tyler Bray threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns for the host Vols. He hit Da'Rick Rogers on a flea-flicker for a 47-yard touchdown 2:13 into the game.
VandY 45, Elon 14: Larry Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for one for the host Commodores. The 45 points against the I-AA Phoenix, 21 in the fourth quarter, was more than in all but two games last season.