KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee tallied 38 first-half points on its way to a 45-20 win over South Carolina. The Vols move to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in SEC play.
Tennessee’s offense picked up right where it left off to start the game. The Vols marched 66 yards on 14 plays capped by a three-yard pass from Hendon Hooker to Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt’s first touchdown catch of the year put UT up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
The Vols defense held strong. Matthew Butler picked up his first sack of the season to force the Gamecocks to punt. Tennessee took advantage. Hooker found deep threat Javonta Payton for a 39-yard touchdown. Payton’s fourth straight game with a touchdown reception.
South Carolina made it into the red zone, but a trick play broke down and Jaylen McCollough picked off Jordan Burch. Tennesse took it the other way and scored when Hendon Hooker called his own number for the 11-yard touchdown.
Tennessee forced a Gamecock fumble. Aaron Beasley recovered. Hooker took advantage by hitting Velus Jones Jr. in the flat. He scampered 21-yards into paydirt. Hooker tied a career-high in touchdown passes in a single season with 13. The Vols led 28-0 after the first quarter.
The Vols started off the second quarter slowly, but Tiyon Evans broke off a 45-yard run to put Tennessee up 35-0.
South Carolina finally found the end zone late in the first half. Kevin Harris hustled six yards into the end zone for just the second Gamecock’s rushing touchdown this season.
Tennessee used the two-minute drill to put three more points on the board. Chase McGrath nailed a 25-yard field goal to take a 38-7 lead into the break.
The Gamecocks started to creep back in the game. A fake punt pass led to a touchdown. Kai Kroeger found a wide-open Payton Mangrum. Mangrum’s first career reception goes 44-yards to the house. Tennessee’s lead was cut to 38-14.
South Carolina continued to chip away at the Vols lead. Kevin Harris plunged up the middle for one yard. The Gamecocks pulled within 18 with 12:19 left in the game.
The Vols offense scored their first touchdown of the second half when Len’Neth Whitehead plunged two yards up the gut for his first career touchdown.
That would seal a 45-20 win. Hendon Hooker finished the game 17/23 for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He also tallied 66 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown. Tiyon Evans racked up 119 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He becomes the 13th Vol to rush for 100+ yards against South Carolina. Velus Jones Jr. reeled in six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. He becomes the 10th Vol receiver to finish with 100+ yards against South Carolina.