COLUMBIA, S.C. – Alabama's school record 29-game regular season win streak came to an end Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium as the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) took down the top-ranked Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC). After only giving up a combined 35 points the entire season, the Tide defense surrendered 35 points at the hands of the Gamecock offense.
"If you're a great competitor you really don't like losing," head coach Nick Saban said. "This is a lesson for everybody in terms of what you have to do to prepare and what it takes to play with consistency in this league."
After Alabama scored a field goal on its opening drive, South Carolina answered with a touchdown and would go on to take a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy connected with junior Julio Jones on a 8-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-9 deficit into the half.
The Crimson Tide drew back within a touchdown quickly at the start of the second half after a South Carolina safety and an Alabama field goal, all coming within the first five minutes of the third quarter to narrow the Gamecocks advantage to 21-14. South Carolina answered with a 15-play touchdown drive eating up nearly eight minutes off the clock, stretching South Carolina's lead back out to 28-14.
Alabama pulled back within a touchdown quickly, when McElroy hit junior Darius Hanks with a 51-yard touchdown pass, the longest of Hanks' career. The Tide's comeback hopes looked bright as junior Will Lowery intercepted USC's Stephen Garcia on the following drive, giving Alabama the ball on the Gamecocks 38-yard line.
The Tide could not capitalize on the turnover though, as Alabama failed to convert a fake field goal attempt on 4th and 11 from the 25-yard line.
"I was proud of the way our players fought back at the end of the game," Saban added. "That shows a lot of character, but everybody has a lot to learn from this experience."
Quarterback Greg McElroy, who suffered his first loss as a starter since the eighth grade, posted respectable numbers through the air with two touchdowns on 315 yards in his 27-for-34 performance. However the success of the passing game wasn't enough to top South Carolina who held Alabama to 36 yards rushing and picked up seven quarterback sacks.
Alabama returns home for Homecoming next Saturday when the Mississippi Rebels visit Bryant-Denny Stadium.