COLUMBIA — Jake Bentley ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead South Carolina to a 34-27 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday that assured the Southeastern Conference’s East Division race would go on at least one more week.
Bentley was 19-of-29 for 174 yards and ran six times for 47 yards, including his first scores rushing in his college career for the Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2).
Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-5) had two players ejected for targeting, including linebacker Charles Wright -- the team’s sack leader -- on a hit on Bentley just after he released the ball.
“I saw a young man tackle a quarterback,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “We’ve got to get that right.”
Bentley, who took advantage of open field in front of him for several big runs, said he is used to taking shots. “Anytime a quarterback runs it’s like a little minnow with a pool of sharks,” the sophomore said.
The Commodores finished with 10 penalties for 100 yards. The final one might have been the most costly. A holding penalty by tight end Sam Dobbs stalled a potential game-tying drive and Kyle Shurmur overthrew Caleb Scott on fourth-and-2 with just over a minute to go.
Shurmur threw for a season-best 333 yards and four touchdowns.
A.J. Turner ran 15 times for 121 yards and was the first Gamecock 100-yard rusher this season.
South Carolina kept itself in the SEC East race with the win. If the Gamecocks beat No.2 Georgia next week, they will be only one game behind the Bulldogs and own the tiebreaker.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp plans nothing special this week to emphasize the stakes.
“Our guys know it’s an important game. They understand what is standing in front of them and me telling them is not going to make any difference,” Muschamp said.