7:15 PM ET, October 29, 2011
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Connor Shaw accounts for both TDs to help South Carolina survive Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- South Carolina's offense may not look as pretty without star running back Marcus Lattimore. It still managed to get the job done.
The Gamecocks (7-1, 5-1) remained in control of the Southeastern Conference's East Division heading into the final month of the season, with games against Arkansas and Florida remaining. They're tied with Georgia but own the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Bulldogs earlier in the season.
"Well, we won the game somehow," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We weren't pretty on offense most of the game. Ran the ball well, gained a bunch of yards. Not bad for a guy that made his first start and got a bunch of carries."
Wilds was playing in place of Lattimore, who had 818 yards rushing when he suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 15 against Mississippi State. Spurrier had a bye week to prepare a plan for Wilds and the rest of the South Carolina backfield.
Wilds gradually picked up steam as the game wore on and was the centerpiece of a methodical drive that ate up much of the third-quarter. He ran 11 times for 51 yards on the 20-play drive, and Shaw finished it off with a 5-yard touchdown run on a draw that gave the Gamecocks a 14-3 lead with 47 seconds in the third quarter.
The drive threatened to deflate the Vols (3-5, 0-5), who had second-half meltdowns in three previous games. After picking up one first down, Justin Worley threw three straight incomplete passes, and the Vols punted.
But Brian Randolph recovered a fumble by Wilds on the next drive at the South Carolina 27. The breath of life was short-lived as Worley threw an interception on the very first play to Stephon Gilmore.
"We fought them hard, but we're just a mess on offense," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "We can't run. We struggled to throw. We had the ball twice in the red area and we turned the ball over."
Tennessee's defense managed to keep pressure on Shaw's passing efforts most of the night, sacking him three times. Shaw was 10 for 18 for 87 yards and an interception in addition to his scores, and top wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was limited to just 17 yards on three catches.
Early in the second half, Shaw was picked off by Prentiss Waggner, who ran the ball 54 yards to the 2-yard line before being tackled, but Worley threw an interception of his own two plays later to D.J. Swearinger that set up the Gamecocks' 20-play drive.
"Our defense bailed us out and the offensive line stepped up," Shaw said. "Freshman Brandon Wilds stepped up and had a great game. He had well over 100 yards rushing. It was a great drive to go down and score."
Dooley named Worley the starter this week after Matt Simms struggled against No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. Worley has been the third-string quarterback most of the season as Simms had replaced Tyler Bray, who broke his thumb Oct. 8 against Georgia.
The true freshman was 10 of 26 for 105 yards and the two interceptions. He had several long, accurate passes but just as many glaring misses, and Tennessee could only manage 35 yards rushing.
The Vols managed to take advantage of one South Carolina mistake. After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Vols punted the ball only to get it back at the Gamecocks 18 when Ace Sanders muffed the return.
Tennessee again reached the red zone just before the first quarter ended. Dooley was ready for the Vols to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the 20, but they committed back-to-back false start penalties, and Palardy's 47-yard field goal attempt was tipped by Gilmore and sailed wide right.
South Carolina's only first-half score came on a fourth-and-1. Tennessee blitzed, but Shaw went instead for the play-action pass and hit Rory Anderson on a 23-yard touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
"I think we've grown a little bit," Waggner said. "We've just got to keep on pushing, keep on pushing. I hope that things will go our way someday. Continue to have good weeks at practice and hope for the best. Just continue to improve day in and day out."
South Carolina finished with 318 yards -- 231 of them on the ground -- compared to 186 yards for Tennessee. The Gamecocks held on to the ball for 12:36 longer than the Vols to nab just their second win against Tennessee in Knoxville in 16 tries.
"I don't come off the field smiling real big like I used to when the team scored a bunch of points," Spurrier said. "But we understand that's what we've got to do, and our defense is playing well."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Connor Shaw ran five yards for a TD to put the Gamecocks up 14-3 in third.
Gameball goes to... South Carolina's D, which held the Vols to 186 yards and three points.
Stat of the game... 2. The Gamecocks picked up only their second win ever in Knoxville.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||10-18||2-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||3-5|
|FG||11:03||Michael Palardy 22 Yd||0||3|
|TD||07:43||Rory Anderson 23 Yd Pass From Connor Shaw (Jay Wooten Kick)||7||3|
|TD||00:47||Connor Shaw 5 Yd Run (Jay Wooten Kick)||14||3|