KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — South Carolina rode a new running back, an old game plan and a swaggering defense to another SEC win here Saturday.
Freshman Brandon Wilds powered a historic third quarter drive that carried the No. 14 Gamecocks past reeling Tennessee 14-3 in front of 96,655 fans in Neyland Stadium.
South Carolina (7-1, 5-1 SEC) couldnt shake off the Volunteers (3-5, 0-5) until the third quarter, when the offense ate up 11 minutes, 35 seconds and 98 yards with a 20-play drive that ended with a 5-yard Connor Shaw touchdown run. Seventeen of the 20 plays were runs.
Thats what we do, coach Steve Spurrier said. We are not a great passing team, obviously. We just have to keep running and playing defense and trying to win these low-scoring games. We got two touchdowns again, thats about all we get, to tell you the truth.
Eleven of drives runs were by Wilds, who gained 51 yards on the drive and 137 on 28 carries for the game while making his first collegiate start. Wilds was thrown into the starting lineup by the season-ending injury to Marcus Lattimore, but the game plan looked a lot like what South Carolina employed with Lattimore.
They came out and did what they wanted to in the third quarter, Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson said.
The Gamecocks converted more third downs on the drive, six, than they have in four games this year.
Tennessee did play a lot more two-deep zone than we thought and sort of challenged us to run the ball more, Spurrier said. We thought that was the best way to try to win the game, just come out running.
The drive was set up with a huge tackle by offensive lineman Cody Gibson and an interception by D.J. Swearinger. The Gamecocks led 7-3 when Shaw was intercepted by cornerback Prentiss Waggner, who returned the ball to South Carolinas 2-yard line before being stopped by Gibson, who earned a game ball for the tackle.
Swearinger intercepted Tennessee freshman and Rock Hill native Justin Worley two plays later to give South Carolina possession at the 2-yard line and set up the seasons most impressive drive.
From there, the offense put together the longest drive by plays and yards in Spurriers six-plus years at South Carolina. It also was the longest by yards and plays in the SEC this year.
The Gamecocks rushed for 231 yards and threw for 87 yards. Fifty three of their 71 offensive plays were runs. Wilds also led South Carolina in receiving with three catches for 31 yards. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, slowed by a hamstring injury, didnt have a carry or a catch, and Alshon Jeffery finished with 17 yards, his lowest total since the fourth game of his freshman year.
The Gamecocks now have back-to-back wins against the Volunteers for the first time.
DeVonte Holloman led the Gamecocks with eight tackles as the defense held Tennessee to 186 yards, including 35 on the ground. Worley, making his first collegiate start, was 10-of-26 passing for 105 yards and two interceptions before being replaced by Matt Simms.
Tennessees last win over a ranked team was two years ago, when it beat No. 21 South Carolina. The Volunteers, who also started the SEC season 0-5 last year, play Middle Tennessee State and then travel to Arkansas
Spurrier, who takes his team to Arkansas on Saturday, said he is beginning to get used to winning ugly.
I dont walk off the field with as big a smile as I used to, but we understand thats what we have to do, he said. Our defense is playing very well. We dont want to do anything to give away a score, which we almost did. To win the game, thats the object.
Tenn: FG Palardy 22, 11:03.
USC: Anderson 23 pass from C.Shaw (Wooten kick), 7:43.
USC: C. Shaw 5 run (Wooten kick), :47.
|Time of Possession||36:18||23:42|
RUSHING: South Carolina, Wilds 28-137, C.Shaw 16-64, Byrd 2-15, Miles 7-15. Tennessee, Poole 18-38, Simms 1-3, Worley 2-(minus 6).
PASSING: South Carolina, C.Shaw 10-18-1-87. Tennessee, Worley 10-26-2-105, Simms 5-12-0-46.
RECEIVING: South Carolina, Wilds 3-31, A.Jeffery 3-17, Anderson 1-23, Cunningham 1-6, Jones 1-5, D..Moore 1-5. Tennessee, D.Rogers 4-35, Arnett 3-59, Z.Rogers 2-24, Rivera 2-15, Neal 2-10, Lane 1-6, Poole 1-2.