Rubio edges Cruz for second in SC
© Greg Nash

Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate rejects effort to boost Congress's national security oversight The Memo: Summit gives Trump political boost — with risks The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Kim make history with summit MORE has squeezed past Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUS-China trade war is just the start of the struggle for global order Dem lawmaker: Migrant family separation policy 'is on all of us' Cruz wins charity basketball challenge against Jimmy Kimmel MORE for second place in the South Carolina Republican primary.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rubio finished with 22.5 percent of the vote, topping Cruz's 22.3 percent. Both candidates finished well behind winner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE, who had 32.5 percent.

The two freshman senators have been angling for position behind Trump, hoping to emerge as the consensus alternative to the GOP front-runner.

Cruz won the Iowa caucuses and finished ahead of Rubio in New Hampshire.

But Rubio will get new life after finishing ahead of Cruz in South Carolina. Cruz was once considered to have the inside track on the state due to its strong contingent of evangelical voters.

Rubio will get a further boost with Jeb Bush having bowed out of the race. Rubio and John Kasich are the last two mainstream conservatives standing. After a strong second place showing in New Hampshire, Kasich is headed for a fifth place finish in South Carolina.

The third-place finish is a disappointing showing for Cruz. The Texas senator's organization and evangelical support made him a sleeper pick to challenge Trump atop the polls on election day, but instead he was surpassed by a late-surging Rubio.

Rubio came on strong in the end, with his high profile supporters in the state — Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAnti-Trump Republicans better look out — voters might send you packing Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Fed nominees vow to rebuff pressure from Trump on interest rates MORE and Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy: House will use 'full arsenal' of constitutional weapons to get DOJ, FBI compliance on subpoenas Gowdy: IG report ‘certainly helps’ Trump Sunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation MORE — hitting the trail for him.

Both Rubio and Cruz are playing catch-up to Trump, who will take a strong majority — and potentially all — of South Carolina’s 50 delegates.

This story was updated on Feb. 21 at 7:21 a.m.