BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Jeremy Hill capped his breakout game by leaping the fence dividing the field from the stands at Tiger Stadium and embracing a jubilant throng of students as they celebrated LSU's quick ascendance back into the national title discussion.
Hill highlighted a 124-yard, two-touchdown performance with a 50-yard scoring run, and the ninth-ranked Tigers handed No. 3 South Carolina its first loss of the season, 23-21, on Saturday night.
Hill's clutch runs, showcasing his tackle-breaking power as well as breakaway speed, were precisely what LSU needed a week after stumbling to its lone loss of the season at Florida, where the offense had been stagnant.
"We didn't play like we were capable of playing last week against Florida. The entire offense knew that they had to step up and we made that a priority," Hill said. "At the end, it was a great release and we wanted to celebrate with the students who have supported us throughout the season."
LSU (6-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) substantially outgained South Carolina (6-1, 4-1), 406 yards to 211, but struggled to find the end zone. Three times, LSU settled for field goals after driving at least as far as the Gamecocks 5-yard line, and another drive to the South Carolina 15 stalled on a missed field goal.
But Hill's long score with 5:03 left gave LSU a nine-point lead that proved to be just enough cushion for the Tigers.
The run caused bedlam in Death Valley, exactly what South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier did not want to see — or hear — after jokingly pretending to be momentarily confused this past week about the fact there are two Death Valley's, one at LSU and one at Clemson.
"That was Death Valley," Miles said triumphantly afterward. "That was the place where opponents' dreams come to die — and it was spectacular."
Connor Shaw drove South Carolina for a late TD on a short pass to Bruce Ellington with 1:41 left, and the Gamecocks got the ball once more with 35 seconds left, but LSU's defense held up.
Zach Mettenberger had the latest in a string of inconsistent performances but made enough big throws to sustain scoring drives, finishing 12 of 25 for 148 yards. He had one costly interception returned 70 yards by Jimmy Legree, setting up South Carolina's first TD.
Shaw finished 19 of 34 for 177 yards and two TDs, but was intercepted twice, once by Eric Reid to set up LSU's go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter, and then on the final desperate play by Craig Loston.
"I don't know if he got hit in the head tonight or not," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said of Shaw. "Some of his decision-making was a little off. ... Connor has played beautifully all year. He had some good plays tonight but he wasn't as sharp as he's been."
Shaw also was sacked four times — twice by defensive end Sam Montgomery, a South Carolina native.