COLUMBIA, S.C. • Dylan Thompson completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 9 South Carolina (2-0) beat East Carolina 48-10 on Saturday.
Thompson started the game in place of the injured Connor Shaw, and he left little doubt coach Steve Spurrier made the right choice to let Shaw rest.
Thompson's first completion was a 53-yard pass to Damiere Byrd. He finished the game averaging almost 16 yards a completion and did not throw an interception.
The rejuvenated passing game allowed Spurrier to use sparingly star running back Marcus Lattimore. He gained 40 yards on 13 carries.
East Carolina (1-1) gained 400 yards, but the Pirates turned over the ball five times, including four interceptions and a fumble in just 16 plays.
Spurrier said this week that Shaw could play if he was needed after bruising his right shoulder in last week's win over Vanderbilt. But Thompson made his first start count. The sophomore threw two incompletions to start the game, but he completed his next five passes to help the Gamecocks jump to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Thompson's passes looked sharp, in contrast to the way the Gamecocks threw the ball last week against the Commodores, when they completed seven throws for 67 yards. With UAB coming up next week, Spurrier might be tempted to keep Thompson behind center. His 330 yards passing beat Shaw's career best of 311 against Kentucky in 2011.
In fact, Thompson's only bad decision came late in the fourth quarter when he took on a defender as he tried to run the ball in for a touchdown on third-and-19 with the Gamecocks up 31 points. Their helmets collided, and Thompson fumbled away it. Spurrier shook his head, smiled and patted his QB on the back when he got back to the sideline. Senior backup Seth Strickland came in to finish the game.
Spurrier kept passing the ball well into the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Ace Sanders took a lateral and threw a 16-yard touchdown to D.L. Moore to give the Gamecocks a 41-3 lead early in the fourth quarter to help Spurrier win his 199th career game. Strickland threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rory Anderson with 44 seconds left.
Anderson caught four passes for 90 yards, and Bruce Ellington had four receptions for 63 yards. South Carolina quarterbacks completed passes to 11 different receivers and threw for 397 yards. The Gamecocks gained 528 yards.