ROOSTER ABUSERS: Tennessee's blistering first half gives way to second straight SEC victory
By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
For the second straight week, the Tennessee Volunteers came out fast, wasting no time in getting a substantial lead on visiting SEC East foe, South Carolina on Saturday.
The Vols quickly jumped out to a 35-0 lead before the Gamecocks began to battle back, making the most of the second half. However, it wasn't enough, as Tennessee tallied their second straight win against an SEC opponent.
Hendon Hooker found Jalin Hyatt for the first score of the game from three yards out. Following a successful PAT, Tennessee took a quick 7-0 lead. On their ensuing possession, Hooker, again through the air, connected with JaVonta Payton for a 39-yard touchdown pass, extending the Vols' lead to 14-o. Tennessee's second possession took only 35-seconds.
After halting South Carolina yet again, the Vols hit pay dirt for the third time as Hooker darted into the endzone from 11-yards out, extending the lead to 21-0. With momentum clearly on their side, the Vols took advantage and continued to compound on their victory. Hooker connected with Velus Jones for a 21-yard touchdown, further extending Tennessee's lead to 28-0.
After adding their fifth touchdown of the first half, Tennessee took a 35-0 lead. South Carolina finally answered back with a seven play, 75-yard drive, resulting in a six yard touchdown run from Harris, bringing the score to 35-7. Chase McGrath added a 35-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving Tennessee a 38-7 lead at intermission.
To resume the third, the Gamecocks seemed to be playing more inspired football, while the Vols seemed to take their foot off the gas somewhat. South Carolina tallied a touchdown in the third quarter, a 44-yard passing touchdown on a fake punt, and another touchdown early in the fourth, a one yard rushing touchdown from Harris, pulling the Gamecocks back to within striking distance at 38-20.
Searching for offensive productivity in the second half, Tennessee finally got something on the board. Len'Neth Whitehead got his first touchdown as a Tennessee Volunteer as he squeaked into the end zone from two yards out, extending the Tennessee lead to 45-20 with 4:45 remaining in the game.
After halting another scoring effort from South Carolina, Tennessee went on to drain the final 2:45 of the clock, securing their second straight victory against an SEC opponent. The Vols have now won their last two games by a combined score of 107-44, an impressive margin over victory in 2/3 of their conference games.
With the victory, Tennessee improved to 4-2 (2-1) on the season, ahead of a highly-anticipated matchup with former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels in Knoxville next Saturday.