Gamecocks' late goal-line stand preserves 15-9 win over Vols
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Parker White made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a a tiebreaking 21-yarder with 5:17 remaining, and South Carolina produced a goal-line stand Saturday in the closing seconds of a 15-9 victory over Tennessee.
After being completely shut down the entire second half, Tennessee's offense reached South Carolina's 2-yard line with nine seconds left before Jarrett Guarantano threw three straight incompletions to close the game. The game ended on a pass intended for Brandon Johnson in the right corner of the end zone.
Tennessee (3-3, 0-3 SEC) hasn't scored a touchdown in its last 10 quarters and settled for field goals after having first-and-goal on two separate drives in the first half.
"When you play good red-zone defense, it's going to give you a chance to win ballgames," South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.
The Volunteers' third loss in their last four games will turn up the pressure on coach Butch Jones, who already was occupying one of the hottest seats in college football.
"I think they showed their character (today) and we'll continue to show our character in this football season," Jones said.
White, who had been 4 of 11 on field-goal attempts before Saturday, made his tiebreaking 21-yarder in the fourth quarter plus a 36-yarder with 1:13 left. White also had a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The comeback continued Muschamp's mastery of Tennessee.
Muschamp, who coached Florida from 2011-14, now owns a career record of 6-0 against Tennessee and a 4-0 mark against Jones.
The Volunteers gave Guarantano his first career start but still couldn't awaken their dormant offense. Tennessee was off last week after a 41-0 loss to No. 4 Georgia on Sept. 30 that marked the Vols' worst home defeat since 1905 and the first time they'd been shut out since 1994.
Guarantano went 11 of 18 for 133 yards and was sacked seven times. He had 17 carries for 3 net yards.
"It hurts," Jones said. "It stings. I don't know what else I can tell you."
South Carolina (5-2, 3-2) scored on each of its last three drives.
The Gamecocks appeared ready to take the lead when A.J. Turner's 20-yard touchdown run around the right end tied the game at 9-all with 1:02 left in the third quarter. But on the ensuing extra-point attempt, holder Danny Gordon mishandled a low snap. Gordon threw an incomplete pass that prevented South Carolina from grabbing a 10-9 lead.
South Carolina pulled ahead for good on its next possession with a 16-play, 72-yard drive that lasted over nine minutes.
Tennessee grabbed a 9-3 halftime lead after Brent Cimaglia made field goals from 29, 33 and 24 yards out.
Cimaglia normally shares Tennessee's kicking duties with Aaron Medley, as Medley handles the shorter field goals and extra points while Cimaglia has the long-distance attempts.
An illness prevented Medley from playing against South Carolina, so Cimaglia took over.
South Carolina: The defense was mostly responsible for this victory, but South Carolina's offense also deserves credit for the way it regrouped after losing running back Rico Dowdle to an injury in the first quarter. After going 0 for 6 on third-down conversions in the first half, the Gamecocks were 5 of 8 in the second half.
Tennessee: The Vols simply couldn't run the ball after the first quarter. Tennessee had 14 carries for 100 yards in the first quarter. The Vols had 25 carries for 25 yards the rest of the way.
South Carolina has next week off before hosting Vanderbilt on Oct. 28.
Tennessee is at No. 1 Alabama.