COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is ready for his football team to grow up and stop making mistakes. The second-year coach was frustrated after the Commodores (2-4, 0-3 Southeastern) lost 19-10 to South Carolina on Saturday, turning the ball over five times and committing key penalties in what might have been their best chance at an SEC win this season.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is ready for his football team to grow up and stop making mistakes.
The second-year coach was frustrated after the Commodores (2-4, 0-3 Southeastern) lost 19-10 to South Carolina on Saturday, turning the ball over five times and committing key penalties in what might have been their best chance at an SEC win this season.
"Our football team continues to shoot itself in the foot," Mason said. "We've got to be better all the way around."
Vanderbilt appeared to have the momentum, turning a 6-0 deficit into a 10-6 lead with a touchdown on a 14-play drive late in the second quarter and a field goal on a 10-play drive early in the second half. But then came the turning point of the game. Gamecocks quarterback Perry Orth hit Pharoh Cooper as he came across the field and the junior outran the defense for the 78-yard touchdown.
The rest of the game turned sloppy. Vanderbilt would turn the ball over four times and South Carolina (3-4, 1-4) twice after Cooper's touchdown.
"It changed momentum. And then we gave it right back to them," Mason said.
Darrius Sims ran six times for 104 yards, while Johnny McCrary went 21-of-42 for 177 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for the Commodores, who have lost 11 in a row in the SEC, all since Mason took over as coach.
"If you have five turnovers on the road, I don't see how you can win at somebody else's house," Mason said. "We still kept it to a 19-point game. And if you can do that, you should have an opportunity to win."
Mason said he will stick with McCrary as quarterback despite the turnovers because he gives Vanderbilt the best chance to win. He just wishes the sophomore would start making better decisions.
"Just take what the defense is giving you. If you don't like what you see, pull it down and at least give us a chance to punt and play defense," Mason said.
The Commodores also rode out a tide of early game emotion as Steve Spurrier wasn't on the sidelines for South Carolina, resigning on Tuesday in the middle of his 11th season. Interim coach Shawn Elliott waved Spurrier's signature visor as he came on the field, trying to kick the lackadaisical Gamecocks into gear.
The visor and an opponent South Carolina typically dominates appeared to do the trick. South Carolina is 21-4 against Vanderbilt and has won seven straight over the Commodores.
"I know I wanted to do something to pay tribute to him. And I thought what better way than to bring out the visor," Elliott said.
Cooper caught seven passes for 160 yards. Skai Moore had an interception, a sack, recovered a fumble, forced another fumble and led the Gamecocks with 11 tackles. Orth was 17-for-28 for 272 yards and Brandon Wilds ran 24 times for 119 yards as South Carolina won just its second league game since September 2014.
South Carolina responded to Elliott with its best offensive performance of the season, gaining 424 yards. And the defense, which came into the game last in the SEC, held Vanderbilt to 332 yards — 96 yards below the unit's average.
For Vanderbilt, the schedule doesn't get easier. Three of its last six opponents started the day in the top 25. There is also surging Kentucky and Tennessee along with a Missouri team the Commodores have only beaten twice in seven tries.
"We've got to be better all the way around," Mason said.