COLUMBIA -- It took one textbook example of teamwork tackling to turn a wrestling match with Navy in South Carolina's favor Saturday night. Rodney Paulk and D.J. Swearinger knew it as they congratulated each other after stopping Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor for a loss on third down with 10:54 left in the fourth quarter of the No. 10 Gamecocks' 24-21 victory.
Navy was forced to punt and didn't regain momentum.
Until then, the triple-option offense kept defenders whiffing.
The Midshipmen finished with 274 rushing yards, but South Carolina held tough on the last two Navy possessions.
"We did what we had to do and showed up when it was time to," said spur linebacker Antonio Allen, who led the Gamecocks with 10 tackles.
At halftime, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson talked to his players about recognizing the Navy cut-blocking habits that made its rushing game tops in the nation entering the game.
"We made a couple of changes, but not any major changes," Allen said. "We basically stuck to the game plan and just fixed nicks here and there and stopped their breakaway plays."
"I'm not going to lie," Navy fullback Alexander Teich said, "I think we were the better team. It hurts that we didn't make the plays down the stretch that we needed to."
Shell to redshirt
Freshman tackle Brandon Shell (Goose Creek High School) was not in uniform and will redshirt, head coach Steve Spurrier said. Shell played briefly in the opener against East Carolina.
"He's fine with it," Spurrier said. "He knows he's got a ways to go."
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina's All-American candidate wide receiver, was benched for the first few plays. He violated a team rule, Spurrier said. Jeffery had his least productive game this season, with two catches for 35 yards.
Running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a lower leg bruise late in the game but said he felt "fine." Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (concussion) did not play.
Much was made going into the game of Navy's habit of going for it on fourth down, and Navy went 1 for 3 on such attempts.
But Spurrier went 2 for 4. South Carolina did not punt.
"It wasn't a game to punt," Spurrier said. "We had to keep going for them."
Lattimore rushed for a career-high 246 yards but was turned back for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-2 at the Navy 5 late in the fourth quarter with South Carolina ahead, 24-21.
A perfect Wooten
First-year starting kicker Jay Wooten has big kicks in back-to-back games -- a 49-yard field goal to put South Carolina ahead 31-28 at Georgia last week (45-42 win) and a 48-yarder for a 17-14 lead as the first half expired on Saturday night against Navy. Those are Wooten's only attempts of the season.
Spurrier now has 47 wins as the Gamecocks' head coach. He is in second place on the South Carolina career list behind Rex Enright (64). … Spurrier is 43-0 against schools outside the BCS, 17-0 since coming to South Carolina.