Gamecocks buckle down to hold off Tennessee for 15-9 win

Updated: Oct. 14, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, TN (WIS) - Chris Lammons had just three tackles in Saturday's game, but he came up big for South Carolina on the final play.

The senior out of Lauderhill, Fla., managed to keep Brandon Johnson from catching a Jarrett Guarantano pass on the final play to help South Carolina com away with a 15-9 win over Tennessee.

"It wasn't always good in the first half, especially on the defensive side of the ball," Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said. "Just not very crisp in our tackling. I'm frustrated with that, but I think they had about 150 yards in the quarter. They end up with 250 and 80 of those are in the last drive. We took over the game in the second half."

South Carolina struggled to keep their offense on the field in the first half. The Gamecocks only held the ball for 11 minutes, posted 104 total yards in the first two quarters and had only three points to show for their efforts.

South Carolina's offense suffered a huge blow after losing running back Rico Dowdle in the first quarter to a left leg injury. South Carolina's run game only produced 49 rush yards in the opening half.

Tennessee relied heavily on their running game throughout the first half. The Volunteers entered the locker room with 124 rushing yards with John Kelly leading the way with 53 yards on 12 carries. However, the Volunteer offense wasn't able to capitalize on lengthy drives and stalled in the red zone. But Brent Cimaglia was able to boot three field goals for Butch Jones' team to give Tennessee a 9-3 lead at the break.

South Carolina put the first touchdown of the day on the board with 1:02 left in the third quarter. A 20-yard run by AJ Turner would tie the game 9-9, but Carolina was unable to take the lead on the extra point due to a bad snap.

South Carolina would take the lead for the first time against Tennessee in the fourth quarter. A 16-play, 72-yard drive that took nine minutes off the clock would end with a 21-yard field goal to make it 12-9 with 5:17 left.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina defense stifled the Volunteers offense in the second half. Tennessee was held to just 75 yards in the final two quarters while Carolina came up with four second-half sacks.

"There were some things that I thought, adjustment wise, we did do a nice job of in the game," said Muschamp, "but there's no question some momentum plays in the game that we were able to make were huge."

After a third Parker White field goal with 1:13 to go, Tennessee would drive down the field to make things interesting late in the game. The Volunteers would get down to the 2-yard line with 1 second left, but Jarrett Guarantano's pass to Brandon Johnson was broken up by Chris Lammons to secure the win.

"That's all stuff you practice," said Muschamp. "We practice these things all the time. You've got to give our staff credit, but you've also got to give our players tremendous credit for responding with their backs against the wall."

South Carolina will return to action at home against Tennessee on Oct. 28.

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