CHARLOTTE -- South Carolina Gamecocks fans learned many things about their favorite football team Saturday night, some the hard way.

East Carolina scored the first 17 points, sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw struggled mightily in his first start and the Gamecocks had four first-half turnovers. But they rallied for a 56-37 victory in the season opener before a crowd of 58,272 at Bank of America Stadium.

"We didn't play very well but we had some good breaks," South

Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "Overall, against a top-flight opponent, we would have been in trouble."

Veteran quarterback Stephen Garcia and linebacker Antonio Allen led the charge.

Garcia, benched after a suspension-filled spring, found football redemption with two touchdowns rushing and one passing. He will start the Southeastern Conference opener next week at Georgia, Spurrier said.

"(Shaw) played better than I did in the scrimmages and Coach Spurrier made the decision (to start Shaw) and I supported it," Garcia said. "Me and Connor are friends. We know how to handle it."

Allen forced one fumble on a kickoff, recovered a fumble on another kickoff and later scored on a 25-yard fumble return.

Other positives:

--Marcus Lattimore's Heisman Trophy campaign is off to a good start. The sophomore running back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards.

--Jadeveon Clowney frightens foes. The cat-quick defensive end widely recognized as the top football recruit in the high school Class of 2011, rushed Dominique Davis into an incompletion on the first East Carolina series and maintained the pressure.

--Bruce Ellington (Berkeley High School) and Ace Sanders do a little bit of everything.

Ellington, a sophomore who was the starting point guard on the South Carolina basketball team last season, made an impact as a Wildcat quarterback and kick returner in his college football debut.

Sanders scored on a punt return (the first special teams score at South Carolina under Spurrier), caught a touchdown pass and forced a fumble.