ATLANTA -- E.J. Manuel's days as a backup appear to be over.
Manuel threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to stop a South Carolina rally and lead Florida State to a 26-17 victory over the turnover-plagued Gamecocks in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Friday night.
Manuel took over after senior quarterback Christian Ponder left early in the second quarter with a concussion. The sophomore looks ready to assume the starting role next season.
• Chris Thompson rushed for 147 yards, his third career 100-yard rushing game as the Seminoles reached 10 wins for the first time since 2003.
• Jimbo Fisher became the first coach in Florida State history to win a bowl game in their debut season.
• South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia threw three first half interceptions and finished 0-3 in bowl games, passing for no touchdowns and seven interceptions in those three games.
• Steve Spurrier fell to 5-9-1 vs. Florida State, including 1-2 against the Seminoles in bowl games.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"I hate it for Christian," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He got dinged on the back of his head. He came off and he was kind of out of it a little bit. I hate that because of what he means to us but EJ, oh boy, I'm glad he's on our team.
"E.J. is special."
Manuel completed 11 of 15 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and had seven carries for 46 yards. He was 7-for-7 passing on the fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
"E.J. stepped up pretty well, said Chris Thompson, who ran for 147 yards and a touchdown. "He came in and talked like something I never heard EJ talk before. He just had a bunch of intensity. You could tell he had a passion for it. He wanted to get in the end zone real bad. We just knew we had to do what we needed to do for EJ to make a play for us."
Manuel has a knack for postseason success. He was the MVP of the Seminoles' Gator Bowl win over West Virginia to end the 2009 season.
Dustin Hopkins kicked four field goals for the No. 23 Seminoles (10-4), who reached 10 victories for the first time since 2003. Hopkins tied his own school record for a bowl, and the four field goals also matched the Chick-fil-A Bowl record.
No. 19 South Carolina (9-5), which was seeking its first 10-win season since 1984, lost star running back Marcus Lattimore when he was hit hard on the Gamecocks' first drive. Coach Steve Spurrier's team also committed five turnovers.
"We had  yards," Spurrier said. "It wasn't a terrible offensive performance. It was just the turnovers that hurt us."
Stephen Garcia, who threw 11 interceptions in 13 games leading up to the bowl, was picked off by Michael Harris, Kendall Smith and Xavier Rhodes in the Gamecocks' turnover-filled first half. Including Lattimore's lost fumble on South Carolina's opening drive, the Gamecocks had turnovers on each of their first three possessions and four in the first half.
Spurrier said he considered making a change at quarterback.
"There's always the thought of that but he got us this far and I thought let's let him finish," Spurrier said. "Stephen struggled early and then he made some pretty decent throws in the second half. It looked like we had a chance to get back in the game."
Garcia recovered to lead two long touchdown drives that trimmed Florida State's lead to 19-17 before Manuel answered with the 7-yard scoring pass to Taiwan Easterling.
"Man, I was so happy," Manuel said. "We weren't moving the ball like we wanted to. We weren't getting touchdowns. We were getting field goals instead."
Florida State cornerback Greg Reid, whose hits caused the fumbles by Lattimore and Jeffery, deflected a fourth-down pass by Garcia with 3:23 remaining to end the Gamecocks' last hope.
Garcia completed 19 of 34 passes for 243 yards and also scored on a nifty play in the third. On a third-down play from the Florida State 3, Garcia threw a screen pass to Ace Sanders, who threw back across the field to Garcia alone in the right side of the end zone.
The Seminoles answered with Hopkins' fourth field goal, from 45 yards, to push the lead to nine. Hopkins also kicked four field goals in the Seminoles' Gator Bowl win over West Virginia.
Garcia responded by leading a 79-yard drive, capped by Brian Maddox's 7-yard TD run. Garcia helped set up the score with a 29-yard pass to Jeffery.
Reid's hit on Lattimore knocked the freshman out of the game with an injury announced as a cut to his mouth. Spurrier said after the game that Lattimore also had "a little bit of a concussion" and was taken to a hospital for stitches.
"It hurt a bit, no question about that," Spurrier said of Lattimore's absence. "We would have kept trying to run a little bit more, that's for sure."
Linebacker Kendall Smith picked up the fumble after Reid's hit and returned it 46 yards as Lattimore remained on his back. Trainers hurried off the sideline to surround Lattimore before the play ended. He was helped off the field and had an ice pack on his chin for the Gamecocks' next possession.
The lost fumble was the first of Lattimore's career.
Ponder started in his return from a right elbow injury, but appeared to be less than full strength while completing only 1 of 5 passes for 6 yards. Ponder badly underthrew a fourth-down pass from the South Carolina 2-yard line early in the second quarter and Manuel took over on the Seminoles' next possession.
Fisher said Ponder suffered the concussion when he was hit on the play before his fourth-down incompletion.
Ponder missed Florida State's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game loss to Virginia Tech with the elbow injury.