COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Gamecocks suffered another second-half collapse to lose to Tennessee in overtime, 45-42.
The Gamecocks drop to 4-5, 2-5 SEC while Tennessee improves to 4-5, 1-4 SEC. It was Tennessee's first SEC win of the season and the first overtime for the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Volunteers won the game on a 32-yard field goal in overtime that gave them the 42-43 lead. South Carolina missed a 58-yard field goal attempt on its possession that would have tied the score.
After the game, Head Coach Steve Spurrier didn't take questions from reporters.
"I don't need to take any questions. You guys watched it and I need to get out of here."
"One or two calls I wish I could have done over," he said before leaving the media room. "We couldn't hold the lead, as we all saw. This is a tough one. It's gonna' take a while getting this one out of your system but we've had three or four like this. I guess I should be getting used to it by now. I have a tough time getting used to these things."
This is the third game South Carolina gave up a second-half lead to lose. The Gamecocks fell to Missouri and Kentucky after giving up the lead in the second half.
"It just hurts, man, to keep coming out of these games with losses," said starting Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson. He passed for 347 yards with two touchdowns in the loss.
"Guys that care about winning or losing aren't happy right now," he said. "Just to go out there and fight and come up short. It hurts."
South Carolina earned 625 yards of total offense, the fourth straight game the Gamecocks had more than 500 yards of offense, a school record.
Sophomore Pharaoh Cooper had a school record 233 receiving yards on 11 catches, also a career high. He was responsible for four South Carolina touchdowns, including throwing a pass for a score.
"All that stuff goes out the window," he said about the accomplishment. "I'm not even thinking about what I did tonight."
Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward didn't have any answers for his players. When asked what he told his players after the game, he responded, "I don't know. It was speechless. This was the third time we had at least a two-touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter and lost the ballgame."
"We've got three games to play. We've gotta' fix it," he said. "We gotta' keep working at it...You can't get any worse. Eventually you gotta' get better."
South Carolina scored first, on the Gamecocks second possession of the game. Pharaoh Cooper, playing quarterback, ran it in 11 yards for the 7-0 South Carolina lead with 8:34 to go in the first quarter.
The Gamecocks defense held Tennessee on 4th and goal from the 1 on the Vols' next possession. But as South Carolina started its next drive from the Vols' 1-yard line, Dylan Thompson threw an interception to Dustin Coleman, who returned it to the 24. Seven plays later, Tennessee found the end zone with 2:37 to go in the first on a Pig Howard 1-yard run to tie it at 7.
That was the score at the end of the first quarter.
South Carolina had 228 yards passing in the first half, 69 on the ground. Conversely, Tennessee had 157 yards rushing, 124 in the air.
Tennessee took the 14-7 lead with 10:58 in the second quarter when Joshua Dobbs ran 7 yards for a touchdown, capping an 80-yard drive in 11 plays.
South Carolina answered on its next drive, moving 88 yards in 8 plays, capping off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Pharaoh Cooper to Brandon Wilds that tied the score at 14 with 6:35 in the second quarter. It was Coopers second touchdown of the game.
Tennessee took a 21-14 lead into the locker room at halftime after Dobbs ran 37 yards to the end zone with :07 in the second quarter. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game.
South Carolina scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half. First in the third quarter, capping a 72-yard drive with 9:06 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Brandon Wilds to tie it at 21. The Gamecocks scored again with:09 to go in the quarter on a 12-yard pass from Thompson to Cooper, making the score 28-21.
Then with 13:23 in the fourth, and South Carolina on a 3rd and 11 from its own 15-yard line, Thompson hit Cooper for an 85-yard touchdown pass that extended the Gamecocks lead to 35-21.
With 6:35 in the fourth, Tennessee went for it on 4th and 6 and scored on a 21-yard pass from Dobbs to Jalen Hurd to close the gap to 35-28.
South Carolina answered with 4:52 to play on a Wilds 70-yard run for score, extending South Carolina's lead to 42-28.
Tennessee wouldn't give up and Dobbs' 3-yard touchdown run with 1:50 to play closed the gap to 42-35. They scored again to tie it at 42 with :11 to go in the game on 9-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Jason Croom.
The game went into overtime and Tennessee scored on a 32-yard field goal.
Both teams have byes next Saturday. South Carolina next travels to The Swamp to take on Florida on Nov. 15. Tennessee hosts Kentucky.