Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker left the game with a knee injury with Tennessee trailing 49-31 in the 4th quarter. Hooker fumbled the ball before clutching his knee and the Gamecock’s recovered, setting up a Dakereon Joyner touchdown run to seal the USC victory. Hooker would not return to the game.
Tennessee’s defense had been it’s Achilles heel all season and they had a rough night Saturday, giving up 608 yards of total offense, including 453 yards through the air.
South Carolina struck first, when Spencer Rattler found Jaheim Bell on a 19 yard scoring strike to give the Gamecocks a 7-0 lead. It’s the first time this season the Vols gave up a touchdown on the opening possession of the game.
Tennessee responded quickly, going 75 yards in four plays, taking up 1:04 on the clock, capped by a Jabari Small 31 yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7.
Rattler answered with a 60 yard touchdown pass to Josh Vann to give South Carolina a 14-7 lead. After holding the Vols to a three and out, the Gamecocks extended the lead to 21-7 on a Rattler 11 yard touchdown strike to Juju McDonald.
Rattler was dialed in on the deep ball, finishing 30-37 for 438 yards and 6 touchdowns in the game.
Early in the 2nd quarter, Hendon Hooker connected with Cedric Tillman on a beautiful fade pass on 4th down. The three yard touchdown pass pulled the Vols within 7 at 21-14.
Hooker continues to put up video game numbers, before the injury he completed 25-42 passes for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.
Late in the 2nd quarter, after falling behind 35-17, Tennessee put together a textbook two minute drive, going 75 yards on 11 plays taking up 1:52 on the clock, capped by a 7 yard touchdown pass from Hooker to Bru McCoy. The Vols trailed 35-24 at the half.
The Vols struck again early in the 2nd half, Hooker found Princeton Fant streaking down the middle of the field for a 41 yard touchdown strike to pull Tennessee within four at 35-31.