COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Marshawn Lloyd at last looked like the dynamic playmaker he expected to be when he came to South Carolina. And he plans on more big moments ahead for himself and the Gamecocks.
Lloyd had a career-high 169 yards and three touchdowns as the Gamecocks overpowered Charlotte 56-20 on Saturday night.
“It feels great to be able to go out there and showcase what I can do,” Lloyd said.
He expected that to be the case two seasons ago when he joined South Carolina. Lloyd returned last year, but was not as fast or explosive as he had been in high school when he was considered one of the country's top running backs.
Lloyd looked every bit that player in this one. He had touchdown runs of 25, 14 and 7 yards, two that left fans’ jaws dropped and Charlotte (1-4) defenders in disbelief.
On the first, Lloyd cleanly hurdled safety Wayne Jones in the open field on the way to the end zone. On his second, Lloyd was stood up for what looked like a short gain before breaking free to put South Carolina ahead 28-14.
“This is what I came to South Carolina for,” Lloyd said.
The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Gamecocks (2-2) — and was a welcome performance for an offense stuck near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference this season. In this one, South Carolina scored on its first eight possessions to take control.
“I was proud of our team,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. “No doubt about it, this hasn't been the easiest week around here.”
Beamer referred to the Gamecocks' 48-7 pounding at home by No. 1 Georgia last Saturday.
He told offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield he wanted to run the ball 40 times — and that's exactly what they did to finish with a season high 295 yards on the ground.
Lloyd has South Carolina's most rushing yards in a game since Kevin Harris gained 182 against North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl last New Year's Eve.
Charlotte (1-4) of Conference USA entered with the country's 30th best passing attack at 289 yards a game and the one of the worst rushing defenses (129 out of 131) in the NCAA at 243 yards allowed per game. Both were evident at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks picked up 161 yards on the ground to score on all four of their first-half possessions. But the 49ers were largely on target behind sixth-year quarterback Chris Reynolds, converting their first seven third downs and throwing for 132 yards to keep things close at the half, 20-14.
South Carolina finished with a season-best 545 yards of offense.
The Gamecocks' run of points each series ended when backup quarterback Luke Doty was intercepted by Jones — yes, the one who was hurdled by Lloyd — with 8:22 left in the game.
Charlotte: The 49ers lost both Power Five games they've played this season, falling at Maryland, 56-21, before the South Carolina blowout. Charlotte has a face-paced attack behind Reynolds that had the Gamecocks defense on its heels in the first half. The school does leave with $1.4 million in guarantees for playing at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina: There are still plenty of things to fix for the Gamecocks. This is certainly a start to gaining confidence and momentum once they return to SEC play in two weeks. The offense was efficient and powerful and the defense, after a sluggish first half, got three second-half interceptions that South Carolina turned into points.
South Carolina punter Kai Kroger, named the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week after his opening-game performance in a win over Georgia State, didn't get the chance to kick this week. “Kai probably doesn't care,” Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler said. “He's gotten enough punts in the first (three) games.”
GOOD HALF, BAD HALF
Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds was 15 of 24 for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the first two quarters. Reynolds was 1-of-4 passing for 23 yards and two interceptions in the second half before coming out of the game.
Charlotte returns home to face UTEP on Saturday night.
South Carolina takes on FCS opponent South Carolina State on Saturday.
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