COLUMBIA, S.C.–Jake Bentley threw for 152 yards and a touchdown and South Carolina’s defense stopped Tennessee on downs twice in the final quarter as the Gamecocks rallied from 12-points down for a 27-24 victory Saturday night.
Parker White’s 25-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining proved the difference, the second time in South Carolina’s past three game he’s gotten the game winning kick.
South Carolina defensive end D.J. Wonnum, back after missing five games with an ankle injury, sacked Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano on fourth down with 1:08 to go to seal the win.
The Vols (3-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) looked like they had gained control when they went up 21-9 on Carlin Fils-aime’s 14-yard TD run early in the third quarter.
But with the previous six meetings in the series decided by 20 points, there was little chance this one wouldn’t tighten up.
The Gamecocks (4-3, 3-3) began the comeback on Rico Dowdle’s 1-yard touchdown run. Then, after a Vols field goal, South Carolina responded again.
Bentley connected with Bryan Edwards on a 73-yard pass to the Tennessee 2 and two plays later Ty’Son Willams bulled in for a 1-yard touchdown run.
Bentley ran past three defenders for a two-point conversion and a 24-all tie.
After Javon Kinlaw knocked down Guarantano’s fourth-down pass with 9:47 to go, Bentley led the Gamecocks to the Vols 8 to set Parker up for the go-ahead kick.
Tennessee drove to midfield the final time it had the ball before Wonnum wrapped up Guarantano on fourth-and-10.
Tennessee finally got off to a quick start.
Guarantano helped the Vols convert four third downs on a 71-yard TD drive that ended with a 6-yard pass to Jauan Jennings, the brother of South Carolina women’s basketball forward Alexis Jennings, to put the Vols up 14-3.
Perhaps it was scoring at his big sister’s school, but the younger Jennings celebrated his touchdown by placing the ball on the stomach of defender Steven Montac as he lay in the end zone. The action drew a penalty and set up a late South Carolina touchdown after it began at its 40.
Bentley was 4-of-6 passing for 34 yards on the series, the last completion a 3-yard heave to the end zone that Deebo Samuel tracked down when it looked like it might sail out of the end zone to head into the break behind 14-9.
Tennessee: The Vols rebounded strongly from last week’s 58-21 beat down by No. 1 Alabama. But Tennessee still has some offensive work to do, particularly down the stretch.
South Carolina: Second-half Jake Bentley looks much better than first-half Bentley. The Gamecocks junior had 61 yards passing, an interception and a sack the first 30 minutes. He led three scoring drives the final two quarters.
Tennessee steps out of the SEC with a home game against Charlotte next week.