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Final: South Carolina 24 Tennessee 27

Butch Jones-1-2

• Scouts from the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Bucs, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Ottawa RedBlacks are in attendance.

• Reps from the TaxSlayer Bowl and Citrus Bowl are also in attendance.

• Florida clinched the SEC East with a win over Vanderbilt shortly before the Vols’ game kicked off.

• We didn’t see WR Preston Williams (hamstring) going through warm-ups. WR Marquez North (back), who didn’t play at Kentucky, was going through them and looked to be moving pretty well.

• G Jashon Robertson is out. OT Drew Richmond also isn’t in uniform, though he’s likely headed towards a redshirt season this year anyhow.

• The starting offensive line in warm-ups is Kyler Kerbyson, Mack Crowder, Coleman Thomas, Dylan Wiesman and Chance Hall. Von Pearson, Josh Smith and Josh Malone were the starters at receiver with Joshua Dobbs, Jalen Hurd and Ethan Wolf taking their normal spots.

• Malik Foreman is working with the defensive starters at nickel. He’s been in a battle with Micah Abernathy for playing time at that spot.

• Emmanuel Moseley, who is suspended for the first half after being called for targeting last week at Kentucky, was working with the second-defense behind Justin Martin.

First Quarter:

Easy, easy, easy. That’s all it was for Tennessee on the first drive as the Vols used a nice mixture of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara to march down the field in just over three minutes to strike first. Alvin Kamara, who finished the drive off with a four-yard run on third and goal, had 47 yards of total offense on the opening drive.

After just one first down for South Carolina on its first drive, the Vols got it back and did more of the same. Hurd started that drive with a 20-yard run and Dobbs finished it off with a 37-yard strike to a wide-open Von Pearson, who was able to stride into the end zone uncontested to put UT up 14-0 just a matter of a few minutes into the game.

South Carolina went backwards on the next drive and punted it back. Dobbs gave it right back, coughing up a fumble on the first play that SC recovered. Quarterback Perry Orth looked deep for Pharoh Cooper, who was well-covered by Justin Martin, who almost made an interception, but Brian Randolph came over the top and hit him late, drawing a targeting call that was upheld, knocking Randolph out for the game. SC advanced all the way to the UT 17, but after Orth went down on a sack credited to Derek Barnett, the Gamecocks had to try a 46-yard field goal, which was no good.

The Vols advanced to the SC 39 on their next drive, but stalled there and punted it back to the SC 10, where the Gamecocks began their next drive.

Second Quarter:

The Gamecocks started the drive from their own 39. On 3rd-and-5, Orth hit Neal on a 22-yard pass to the 35. After a false start penalty, Orth zipped out a 13-yard pass but fellshort of the first down. Following an Owen Williams’ stuff, the Gamecocks went for it on fourth down with a run up the middle, only to be met by a host of Volunteers to force a turnover on downs and Tennessee will get the ball at its own 30.

Dobbs hit Pearson on first down for a gain of six, but multiple flags flew after Jauan Jennings’ helmet came off which ended up being offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by Jennings and Rico McWilliams. Dobbs nearly threw an interception on a deep bomb to Josh Smith but Smith plays good defense to knock the ball away from the cornerback. On 3rd-and-10, Smith catches a 14-yard bullet to convert the first down. After two short gains, Jennings is called for a false start to bring up 3rd-and-8. Tennessee goes for it on fourth down, but Dylan Weisman got injured on the play, holding his shoulder. A few short gains and Vols penalties later, Tennessee kicked a field goal. Medley was good from 45, Vols led 17-0, five minutes to go in the half.

Medley’s next kickoff sailed into the end zone, and SC started at the 25-yard line. Tennessee failed to get the stop on third down as Pharoh Cooper made a few Vols miss for a gain of 18. Two plays later, the Gamecocks ran for 12 into Tennessee territory. Add 15 more as Orth carried right up the middle to the Tennessee 25.  LaTroy Lewis broke up a screen pass on 3rd-and-10 to bring out the field goal unit. Fry was good from 43. Tennessee led 17-3 with 1:03 to go in the second quarter.

South Carolina kept the ball away from Evan Berry with a squib kick, recovered by Jakob Johnson at the Tennessee 34. Dobbs looked downfield and fumbled on a blindsided hit which Tennessee recovered. South Carolina called a timeout with 23 seconds left. After a Hurd gain of five, South Carolina called another timeout with 15 seconds, bringing up 4th-and-2 at the Tennessee 42. The punt team did a great job to draw the Gamecocks offsides, keeping the drive alive. Dobbs tried for a deep bomb with three seconds to go, only to be picked off in the end zone.

The Vols, which roared out to an extremely fast start, slowed a good bit in the second quarter. They head to the break firmly in control, but look for Butch Jones to emphasize that they need to finish strong to keep South Carolina from making it interesting late.

Third Quarter: 

The start of the second half was sloppy for both sides, with each team failing to move the ball early and exchanging punts.

South Carolina then found offensive rhythm on its second drive of the half. The Gamecocks mixed up the pass and the run to move the ball 80 yards on 11 plays, capped off a by a touchdown pass to linebacker Jonathan Walton, who was in the game as an H-back. That gave some momentum back to South Carolina, which took advantage of that shortly after.

Evan Berry got stuffed on the ensuing kickoff and a couple plays later, after a review overturned the initial call on the field, it was proven that Alvin Kamara fumbled and South Carolina recovered inside the 20. A late hit on the initial play was still enforced on UT, giving South Carolina the ball at the 7. After thee incompletions in the end zone, South Carolina called a timeout and dialed up a fourth-down touchdown play to tight end Jerell Adams to tie it at 17-17 with 8:29 left in the quarter.

With all the momentum sitting on South Carolina’s side, the Vols pieced together an enormous answer on the next drive. The Vols marched 75 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a perfectly-called and executed screen pass to Alvin Kamara for an 11-yard exclamation mark on that impressive drive that put UT up 24-17.

But speaking of answers, South Carolina had one of its own after that. The Gamecocks put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a nice pass from Perry Orth to Pharoh Cooper to tie it up again late in the half.

Defensively, the Vols are just getting beat at the point of attack and SC is making them pay for it. Offensively, Tennessee, had the one extremely impressive drive in the third quarter, but has been largely stagnant since the first quarter. The Vols have done what they wanted to avoid – given South Carolina a chance heading into the fourth quarter and this is anybody’s game now.

Fourth Quarter:

Tennessee had a few good plays on their ensuing drive, but a penalty was too much to overcome as the Vols were forced to punt. After a couple of costly penalties, the Gamecocks were forced to punt right back to the Vols which was fair caught by Cam Sutton at his own 30.

It almost looked like another three-and-out but a deep Johnathan Johnson reception kept the drive alive. It looked like the Vols would score again when Dobbs found a wide open Josh Malone, only for Malone to drop the ball in the end zone. After another big reception by Von Pearson, the drive would finally stall at the 14 yard line. Aaron Medley’s 27-yard field-goal was good, putting the Vols up 27-24 with 9:14 to go in the game. Although the touchdown would have been nice, points are at a premium this late in the game so Tennessee will take what they can get.

Another three-and-out gives Tennessee even more momentum, and more importantly the ball as Sutton takes the South Carolina punt to the 49-yard line. Unfortunately for the Vols, they have had very little success running the ball in the second half and SC forces another punt. The game continues to be a stalemate with 6:53 to go.

Cam Sutton nearly stripped the ball away from a SC receiver but the referee ruled forward progress had stopped. Needless to say the crowd didn’t share in the official call as it would have given the ball back to Tennessee deep in Gamecock territory. After the defense stopped SC on third and 12, the Vols took over at their own nine. With only 3:06 to, a touchdown on this drive would all but seal it for the Vols.

Tennessee wasn’t able to get much done as far as moving the chains, but they did take two minutes off the clock. Trevor Daniel’s punt was fumbled and then kicked out of bounds by SC. That would have been huge for the Vols to recover considering SC has no timeouts left.

This is likely the Gamecocks’ last chance to win the game and they made the best of it with two quick passes to get into Tennessee territory. With under a minute to go from the 48 yard line, it’s really loud in Neyland Stadium.

It got even louder though when the Gamecocks appeared to have a shot at winning the game with a completed pass in the red zone, only to fumble. The Vols recover with mere seconds on the clock. Game: Vols.

Final score: South Carolina 24 Tennessee 27


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