COLUMBIA, S.C. – For Tennessee, it was a familiar situation. However, this time the Vols were unable to pull out some magic.
Tennessee was unable to overcome South Carolina – as well as costly mistakes – in a 24-21 loss to the Gamecocks on Saturday night in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“You talk about owning, we’ve got to own it,” Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones said. Unacceptable. The small details, the turnovers. You go on the road, you can’t turn the football over. There was a lack of explosive plays, missed tackles, too many penalties on special teams when you do a good job of getting the ball out on some returns. Those are momentum-killers.”
The loss drops the Vols to 5-3 overall but 2-3 in SEC play.
“It starts with myself, it starts with the coaching staff,” Jones said. “You talk about being a determined football team. Some leadership needs to step up on this football team. It starts with myself and the coaches, but it’s everybody. Everybody is going to own it. Everybody is responsible for it. “
Tennessee fell behind early as the Gamecocks took advantage of three Tennessee penalties to take a 7-0 on the opening drive off a Rico Dowdle touchdown.
“I thought we were lethargic, lacked energy no the sideline and at times seemed dis interested,” Jones said. “It starts with me. We talked about it all week long, but again we have to own it”
Jalen Hurd answered later in the quarter for the as the Vols and Gamecocks were tied at 7-7 at the end of one.
The Gamecocks took a 14-7 advantage into the half after Jake Bentley hit Bryan Edwards for a touchdown.
In the second half, Evan Berry scored on a 100-yard kickoff return – which answered an SC field goal that moved the lead to 10 points.
Tennessee held strong on defense, but saw a fumble early in the fourth quarter swing the momentum back to the Gamecocks. Bentley found a wide open K.C. Crosby for a touchdown.
The Volunteers continued to figure as Joshua Dobbs found Jauan Jennings. After another defensive stop, Tennessee pushed into USC territory in the final minute, but a desperation field goal fell short.
Dobbs finished the game 12-of-26 with 161 yards and a score. He also added 27 yards.
Sophomoe John Kelly had 94 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively, Derek Barnett had three sacks – which move him second on the school’s all-time sack lead list.
“We live in a week-to-week season so there’s a lot of football left to be played,” Jones said. “All we’re looking to do is be 1-0 each and every week, and unfortunately we are 0-1 this week. But it starts with everyone.”
Bentley had 167 yards passing going 15-of-20 for South Carolina in his first career start. As a team, the Gamecocks outgained the Vols 325-297.
Tennessee returns to Neyland Stadium next Saturday to host Tennessee Tech.