BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU freshman Jeremy Hill announced his arrival as a big-time running back with tackle-breaking power and breakaway speed on a 50-yard scoring run that was too much for South Carolina to overcome.
Hills finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns in his breakout performance, and the ninth-ranked Tigers handed No. 3 South Carolina its first loss of the season, 23-21 on Saturday night.
"Jeremy Hill's a pretty talented back and has really great speed for a big man," LSU coach Les Miles said. "He certainly came along at the right time."
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 try.
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 Valleys, 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 touchdown 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 21 of 25 for 148 yards. He had one costly interception returned 70 yards by Jimmy Legree, setting up South Carolina's first touchdown.
Shaw finished 19 of 34 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, but two of his passes were intercepted, one by Eric Reid to set up LSU's go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter, and the other by Craig Loston on the final desperate play.
Marcus Lattimore had a quiet night, gaining only 35 yards on 13 carries, but he had given the Gamecocks a 14-10 lead in the third quarter when he impressively broke Reid's tackle on a 2-yard scoring run.