Oct. 29, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Steve Spurrier brought a different team to Tennessee and left with a familiar result.
South Carolina won for the first time in Knoxville after Josh Brown kicked a 49-yard field goal with 2:45 left and the Gamecocks hung on for a 16-15 victory Saturday night.
South Carolina (5-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) snapped a 12-game losing streak to Tennessee.
Their new coach had won here plenty of times with Florida and even once with Duke.
“We thought we had a chance to make history if the ball bounced our way, and it did,” Spurrier said.
Even on a night when Tennessee great Peyton Manning was in attendance to have his No. 16 retired, the Vols (3-4, 2-4) continued their offensive struggles despite facing one of the worst defenses in the SEC.
Spurrier, wearing glasses and not his trademark visor, improved his record against Tennessee to 10-5. It was his first visit to Neyland Stadium since 2000, a 27-23 win by the Gators after a controversial touchdown catch.
“I’ve finally got a new line – God is smiling on the Gamecocks. That was my line after close wins at Florida,” he said.
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer had never lost to South Carolina. The last Tennessee coach who did, Johnny Majors, was forced out of his job six days later in 1992.
The Vols started this season ranked No. 3 in the country with national title expectations. As November begins, they’re still trying to become bowl eligible after losing their third straight game for the first time under Fulmer.
“That is not what we expected,” Fulmer said. “What you saw out there was unacceptable.”
Tennessee has four regular-season losses for only the second time under Fulmer.
“In my 13 years, I’ve not had a season like this,” Fulmer said. “I have never had anything that was easily handed to me and this (season) is not easy. We’ll make whatever tough decisions need to be made … personnel looks that need to be made. We’re going to get this thing back on track.”
The schedule was supposed to get easier for the Vols this week after facing several top 10 teams, but Spurrier found a way to make it difficult.
Blake Mitchell finished 22-of-36 for 242 yards, and Sidney Rice had eight catches for 112 yards for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks overcame two lost fumbles, an interception and being pinned inside their 5-yard line three times.
South Carolina scored first on Rice’s 19-yard touchdown catch from Mitchell in the first quarter. The Vols tied it on Arian Foster’s 1-yard plunge and then went ahead with a field goal and safety in the second quarter.
The Gamecocks regained the lead by one on Mitchell’s second TD pass to Rice, a 5-yarder with 11:33 remaining. The pass attempt for two extra points failed.
After being replaced early in the game by Erik Ainge, Rick Clausen returned at quarterback and led the Vols to the South Carolina 26. James Wilhoit put Tennessee back into the lead, 15-13, with a 43-yard field goal with 7:39 left.
Tennessee’s defense prevented South Carolina from moving past the Vols 32, but that was close enough for Brown’s game-winning field goal.
“This was definitely the biggest of my career,” Brown said.
Tennessee got the ball back with plenty of time, but Clausen, who rallied the Vols from a 21-0 deficit against LSU earlier in the season, could not save them this time. His pass to Bret Smith on fourth down was knocked away by Ko Simpson.
Foster, who replaced injured senior Gerald Riggs, had 148 yards on 25 carries.
The Vols had a chance to increase a 12-7 lead in the second quarter with a touchdown but Foster fumbled as he was stretching across the goal line and South Carolina recovered for a touchback.