The Streak Continues: Tennessee edges South Carolina, extends winning streak to seven games
By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
The Tennessee Volunteers took to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night looking to replicate the result of their 2019 matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
South Carolina, much like 2019, wasted no time in marching down the field. With a balanced offensive attack of both rushing and passing, the Gamecocks struck first on a four yard rushing touchdown from Harris, taking the lead 7-0 after a successful PAT; capping off a 12-play 75-yard drive.
In Tennessee's first possession, they were unable to get anything going after gaining one first down. Jarrett Guarantano overthrew a wide-open Ramel Keyton on what would have been a huge gain. To make matters worse, on the punt, a poor snap led to Paxton Brooks trying to elude pressure, and turning the ball over on downs, leaving the Gamecocks with great field position for their second drive.
Although the Gamecocks had favorable field position, the Volunteers' defense stepped up in a big way, holding South Carolina scoreless. With the Gamecocks still holding a 7-0 lead, Tennessee started off on their second possession of the game.
Guarantano connected with Keyton to open the drive, before hitting Brandon Johnson on a deep pass, which Johnson hauled in with one hand. On the ensuing play, Guarantano connected with Eric Gray on a screen pass, allowing Gray to take the ball down to the one-yard line. On the ensuing play, Guarantano hit pay dirt on a quarterback sneak, tying the game at 7-7 after a successful Brent Cimaglia PAT.
On the following South Carolina possession, the Tennessee defense stepped up again, holding the Gamecocks to a three-and-out, and regaining possession of the ball, tied 7-7 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Vols' offense stalled out, giving the ball back to South Carolina. After gaining a first down, the Gamecocks took possession to begin the second quarter.
With South Carolina struggling to move the ball, the Tennessee defense came up with a big interception from Henry To'o To'o. To'o To'o took the interception into the end zone to give Tennessee their first lead of the 2020 season. After a successful PAT from Cimaglia, the Vols led 14-7.
After regaining the ball, it appeared that the Tennessee offense would fizzle out on third and short after a missed pass to Hyatt. However, a personal foul call on the Gamecocks allowed the Vols to maintain possession with an automatic first down. Tennessee failed to capitalize, going three-and-out, and giving the ball back to South Carolina.
A great punt by Brooks set the Gamecocks up at their own four-yard line on the ensuing possession. South Carolina found some breathing room after a first down grab by Muse. On the ensuing third down play, Slaughter sacked Connor Hill in the backfield, forcing the Gamecocks to punt.
Neither team was able to produce offensively for the remainder of the half, leaving Tennessee in control 14-7 at the half.
Tennessee came out strong in the second half behind the legs of Ty Chandler. A big throw to Josh Palmer and a 15-yard scamper by Guarantano set the Vols up at the 12-yard line. On the ensuing play, Eric Gray punched in a 12-yard rushing touchdown, extending the Tennessee lead to 21-7 after another successful Cimaglia PAT.
After regaining possession, the Gamecocks worked their way down the field behind the arm of quarterback Collin Hill. A big pass to Xavier Legette put South Carolina within striking distance. Hill connected with Shi Smith on a 29-yard touchdown pass to draw back to within a touchdown of the Vols.
On their next possession, Tennessee looked to Southern California transfer Velus Jones. The Vols' offense stalled out, and attempted a field goal. Cimaglia's field goal sailed wide-left, leaving South Carolina within a touchdown at 21-14.
Following the missed field goal, the Gamecocks worked their way down field and into the end zone to tie the game at 21-21. On their next possession, the Vols worked their way into South Carolina territory and stalled out in the red zone. Cimaglia connected on a field goal, giving Tennessee a 24-21 lead late in the third.
The Tennessee defense held strong on another South Carolina offensive drive, allowing them to regain possession to start the fourth quarter, leading 24-21.
To start the fourth quarter, the Vols failed to capitalize on offense while holding a slim lead, being forced three-and-out, and punting the ball back to the Gamecocks early in the final quarter.
South Carolina maintained offensive rhythm and worked their way down field behind receiver Shi Smith. A pair of big runs by Harris set the Gamecocks up just outside the red zone. On a crucial 3rd-and-10, Tennessee came up with a big sack on quarterback Collin Hill, forcing South Carolina to settle for a Parker White field goal, tying the game at 24-24.
Tennessee responded well in the beginning of their ensuing possession, and capped it off with a 33-yard passing touchdown from Guarantano to Palmer. With the touchdown, the Vols led 31-24 with just over nine minutes remaining.
Two possessions later, the Gamecocks drew closer to Tennessee on another White field goal, 31-27.
Attempting to chew clock, Tennessee went to Gray and Chandler, both of which were productive in the rushing game, giving Tennessee a crucial first down, forcing the Gamecocks to burn their second of three timeouts.
South Carolina forced Tennessee into a long third down with time winding down. A penalty on the Vols stopped the clock at 2:15, leaving Tennessee faced with a 3rd-and-27, before being forced to punt.
On the ensuing punt, the ball bounced into a South Carolina player, with Tennessee recovering. The Gamecocks had no timeouts remaining, allowing the Vols to escape with a 31-27 victory on the road.
With the win, the Vols extended their winning streak to seven games. Tennessee moved to 1-0 on the season and will take on the Missouri Tigers on October 3rd at noon.