COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tennessee fell to South Carolina on Saturday night as the Gamecocks rallied to take a late, 27-24 lead at Williams-Brice Stadium.
With the loss, Tennessee holds a 3-5 (1-4 SEC) record while the Gamecocks move to 4-3 (3-3 SEC).
The Vols were led offensively by redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano who completed 27-of-39 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Tim Jordan led the ground attack with 12 attempts for 62 yards while junior wide receiver Marquez Callaway had nine receptions for 86 yards to lead the receiving corps.
Defensively, junior Nigel Warrior ranked first on the team with nine tackles while redshirt senior Todd Kelly Jr., redshirt junior Darrin Kirkland Jr. and senior Kyle Phillips each tallied six for the Vols.
South Carolina’s Jake Bentley threw for 152 yards (11-of-16) and one touchdown in the outing.
Tennessee converted 5-of-7 third downs in the first half, including four in its second drive of the second quarter. Guarantano rushed for 11 yards, sophomore running back Ty Chandler had a four-yard reception and Callaway notched catches of 16 and 12 yards. Overall, UT finished 11-of-16 on third downs.
The Vols and Gamecocks traded punts to start the game before Tennessee’s defense came up big in the third drive of the first quarter. South Carolina’s Bentley attempted a pass over the middle that was tipped by junior linebacker Daniel Bituli to senior defensive lineman Shy Tuttle for an interception. UT proceeded to use six plays and ran 4:52 off the clock as Guarantano connected with redshirt junior tight end Eli Wolf for a five-yard touchdown.
The Big Orange then limited USC to a field goal inside the red zone. Tennessee made four stops inside the five-yard line, holding the Gamecocks at the UT2. The Vols ended the first quarter with a 27-yard kickoff return by Chandler followed by a seven-yard run from Jordan.
In the second, defensive linemen Phillips and Alexis Johnson Jr. forced South Carolina to punt, sacking Bentley for an eight-yard loss. The Vols capitalized on the opportunity to extend their lead and scored their second touchdown of the night, a six-yard pass from Guarantano to redshirt junior wide receiver Jauan Jennings. Prior to the score, Tennessee converted four third downs to keep the drive alive.
South Carolina found the end zone for the first time in the game on an eight-play, 60-yard drive with 49 seconds left in the half. The Gamecocks only came away with six points as Tuttle blocked the PAT attempt.
Tennessee wasted no time getting things started in the third, scoring on its opening drive. Three of UT’s nine plays were 10 yards or more, including Carlin Fils-aime’s rushing touchdown. The 14-yard score was the junior’s first of the season.
USC answered on the following drive as it used seven plays to go 66 yards. The Gamecocks capped the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown.
The Vols added to their advantage in the third quarter with a season-long field goal from Brent Cimaglia. The sophomore made a 48-yard attempt to finish a 13-play drive to give Tennessee a 24-16 lead.
South Carolina then came back to tie the game at 24-24, traveling 75 yards in four plays and successfully completing a two-point attempt with under two minutes to play in the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks took a 27-24 lead after being held to a 24-yard field goal by Tennessee’s defense. USC forced a turnover on downs with less than two minutes to play to take control of the clock and seal its victory.