Gamecocks lose to Tennessee 23-21 on last-second field goal
KNOXVILLE, TN (WIS) - Tennessee has its first SEC win, beating South Carolina Saturday 23-21 at Neyland stadium.
The Vols got the win on a 19-yard field goal as the clock ran out.
11th/9th-ranked South Carolina falls to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the SEC. The Volunteers are 4-3 overall 1-2 in the conference.
Tennessee scored first with a 37-yard field goal with 9:14 in the first quarter, 3-0.
Neither team had much success moving the ball in the first quarter, and the score remained at 3-0. But South Carolina opened the second quarter with a Connor Shaw 76-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd to give USC the 7-3 lead. This is the third straight game Byrd has caught a pass for a touchdown.
Tennessee scored next with 10:12 in the second quarter on a Todd Worley 6-yard pass to Pig Howard, making it 10-7.
With 6:11 to go in the second quarter, Tennessee scored again on a Rajon Neal 5-yard touchdown run to go up 17-7.
Elliott Fry's 45-yd field goal attempt with :54 in the second quarter was short after South Carolina failed to covert a third down and the Gamecocks went into the locker room at halftime down 17-7.
"They outplayed us," said head coach Steve Spurrier at halftime. "I made some bad play calls."
Shaw threw his first interception this season on the opening drive of the second half. However South Carolina's defense held Tennessee and forced a punt.
Shaw shook off the error, orchestrating the next drive, including a third-down scramble, that ended with a Mike Davis 21-yard touchdown run with 9:46 in the quarter.
Tennessee missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 5:57 in third quarter. On South Carolina's next possession, Shaw again moved the team down the field and finished the drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak to give the Gamecocks the 21-17 lead with 3:20 in the quarter.
"We had a lot of careless penalties today," said Spurrier after the game. "But in a close game, the come back to haunt you and that's the way it turned out. We had a lot of good plays by a lot of good buys, but it seemed like we'd always get a penalty on a kickoff return or a punt return. Our players can't play by the rules. And maybe field position was extremely important in a close game like today."
The Vols pulled within one, 21-20, on a 33-yard field goal with 10:11 to go.
Shaw left the game with more than three minutes to go in the third quarter after a third down tackle. He was diagnosed with a left knee strain. Backup Dylan Thompson went in, but the offense failed to move the ball and Tennessee was able to set up the game-winning field goal.
"In hindsight we should have gone for it, we had a third and 10 there," said Spurrier. "That was a big play, obviously. But again, we had a lot of other chances. Offense didn't play very well. Special teams just continues to get push to the back, holding penalties on kickoff returns. It's sad we can't teach them to play by the rules, but we can't do it. Maybe that's one good reason why we didn't win today."
Tennessee got into field-goal range on a 39-yard catch by freshman Marquez North. Four consecutive runs by Marlin Lane got the Vols to the South Carolina 2 and set up the field goal.
"We came out to play on defense," said defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. "I think we played pretty good. Gave up a couple deep passes, which is coverage out of unit 2, that was good D, they just had a better catch."
"They came out, played fast, did the things they were expecting to do," said Davis. "We didn't execute."
Tennessee hadn't beaten a ranked foe since a 31-13 victory over No. 21 South Carolina on Oct. 31, 2009. The Vols also had lost 16 of their last 18 SEC games.
South Carolina had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Davis completed his sixth straight game with more than 100 rushing yards, finishing with 137.
South Carolina takes on Missouri next Saturday to wrap up a three-game road schedule. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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