In a game between two desperate teams, it was South Carolina that came out with more energy and appeared to play harder in a 24-7 victory over Kentucky.

With injured quarterbacks and losses in each of their first two SEC games, Kentucky and South Carolina were in a similar position entering Saturday night.

South Carolina pulled away on a sequence early in the third quarter when D.J. Wonnum sacked QB Sawyer Smith, and Aaron Sterling recovered the fumble. On the ensuing play, RB Rico Dowdle scored on a 30-yard run with 13:59 left in the third quarter, a play that put him over the 100-yard rushing mark for the game. Earlier in the game, Dowdle became the 17th 2,000 yard rusher in South Carolina history. He left the game early in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury.

Tavien Feaster padded the lead with a touchdown run early in the fourth quarter in which he bulled Yusuf Corker into the end zone. He had 54 yards on that drive alone with Dowdle on the sideline. Dowdle and Feaster each went over 100 yards, and it was the first time the Gamecocks had two 100-yard rushers in an SEC game since 2001 against Vanderbilt, with Andrew Pinnock and Derek Watson.

Kentucky got a late touchdown when Lynn Bowden came in at quarterback after Smith absorbed a hard hit. Christopher Rodriquez punched in a TD after Bowden scrambled for 26 yards.

The Wildcats (2-3) lost their third straight game, and fell to 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 2013 when it lost to Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. The South Carolina win snapped a five-game losing streak to UK when the Gamecocks appeared to have the better team in most of those contests. UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran often victimized the Gamecocks using a running quarterback or the “Wild Cat” formation, and poor tackling by South Carolina. But that was far from the case in this game.

The Gamecocks last shutout was 2008 against NC State, 34-0, and the last SEC shutout was 2006 against Mississippi State 15-0.

South Carolina improved to 2-3. Both teams are off next week before South Carolina travels to Georgia and UK plays host to Arkansas on Oct. 12.

UK didn’t convert its first third down until late in the third quarter on a penalty on a horse collar tackle by South Carolina. It started 0-for-9. Its first non-penalty first down came later in that drive when Smith hit WR Ahmad Wagner for nine yards.

By the end of the third quarter, Dowdle had more total yards (124) than UK had as a team (111).

Early in the first half, LB Ernest Jones made an interception of Sawyer Smith, who has turned the ball over on the first drive in each of his first three starts. Smith, who suffered a shoulder injury last week at Mississippi State, but said he didn’t miss any practice time this week, struggled to connect with receivers.

Feaster opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run to cap the Gamecocks opening drive of 75 yards in 11 plays. Otherwise, it was a largely vanilla start for the Gamecocks’ offense, which couldn’t pull away from the Wildcats until the second half.

UK had a golden opportunity on a South Carolina turnover midway through the first half when South Carolina’s Darius Rush has ball hit him in back on punt return, but Kentucky couldn’t convert the turnover.

Smith started 4-for-11 passing for Kentucky as the Wildcats had trouble getting drives going as the passing offense sputtered as a complement to the Wild Cat. UK began 0-for-6 on third down conversions, a problem that dates to the Florida game and extended a stretch that was 1-for-22 at one point. UK had just 78 yards by halftime as South Carolina led 10-0. UK’s longest drive in the first half was five plays.