Oct. 29, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – South Carolina freshman tailback Brandon Wilds rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 28 carries in his first career start and the Gamecock defense limited Tennessee to just 186 total yards as the No. 13 Gamecocks defeated the Volunteers 14-3 on Saturday evening at Neyland Stadium. Carolina’s defense was stellar the entire night and picked off Tennessee starting quarterback Justin Worley twice inside the red zone. South Carolina is now 7-1 on the year including a 5-1 mark in the SEC, tied for first in the Eastern Division with Georgia. The loss drops Tennessee to 3-5 and 0-5 in conference play.
South Carolina has now won its last six “true” road games, which is a school record. The Gamecocks won at Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson to close out the 2010 season. Carolina has claimed victories at Georgia, Mississippi State and now Tennessee this season.
With a 7-3 lead in the third quarter and after a D.J. Swearinger interception on the South Carolina two-yard line, the Gamecocks put together the squad’s longest drive of the season taking up 11:35 on the clock with 20 plays for 98 yards, capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Connor Shaw that gave Carolina an 11-point cushion. The drive featured 51 rushing yards by Wilds along with 33 yards on the ground by Shaw and a combined three completed passes by Shaw to Alshon Jeffery and Nick Jones. The drive is the third longest drive in school history by yards and is the longest scoring drive by time of possession in Carolina history by two minutes and 33 seconds besting the previous mark of 9:02 set against Troy last year (11/20/10).
The Volunteers looked to rally in the fourth quarter after a fumble by Wilds gave the Volunteers possession at the Gamecock 27-yard line. But Carolina’s defense answered on the next play with a turnover as Stephon Gilmore picked off Worley in the end zone to give the ball back to the Gamecocks.
South Carolina finished the evening with 318 total yards including with 231 of those on the ground. Along with the 137 yards by Wilds, sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw rushed 16 times for 64 yards to pace the Gamecock offense. Shaw was 10-for-18 in the air for 87 passing yards along with a touchdown. Shaw improves to 4-0 as the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback, making him just the third quarterback in Carolina in the last 30 years to start his career with four straight wins. Steve Taneyhill (1992) and Chris Smelley (2007) also accomplished the feat.
His counterpart, Worley, struggled most the evening and was just 10-of-26 for 105 yards including two interceptions. Carolina’s defense also dominated the line of scrimmage against the Tennessee offensive line limiting the Volunteers to only 35 net yards rushing for the contest. Junior defensive back DeVonte Holloman led the Carolina defense with eight tackles. Junior safety D.J. Swearinger also finished with six stops and an interception. South Carolina has 16 interceptions for the season including 12 picks in the last four games.
After the Gamecocks halted the first drive of the game by Tennessee, a fumbled punt return by Gamecock sophomore Ace Sanders on the South Carolina 18-yard line led to an early field goal for the Volunteers. The Gamecock defense was able to hold Tennessee to three points on the drive though as the Volunteers failed from first and goal at the six to convert a touchdown and settled for a Michael Palardy 22-yard field goal with 11:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, the Gamecocks made their move converting on a 4th and 1 from the Tennessee 23-yard line with a touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to Rory Anderson that put South Carolina ahead 7-3 with 7:43 to go in the second quarter. The drive started on the Tennessee 44th-yard line and featured a 12-yard end around by wide receiver Damiere Byrd as well as a six-yard pass from Shaw to Justice Cunningham. With the Gamecocks facing a 4th and 1, head coach Steve Spurrier elected to stay with his offense and on a play action fake, Shaw was able to find a wide open Rory Anderson for a touchdown pass, the first career touchdown for the freshman tight end.
The Gamecock defense then came up with a key stop in the following drive by Tennessee as on a 4th and 1 on the South Carolina , 43-yard line, the defense stood up and held Volunteer quarterback Justin Worley to no gain on the quarterback sneak allowing the Gamecocks to maintain a four-point lead entering halftime.
Both teams traded turnovers on their opening drives to start the second half. In Tennessee territory, Shaw was picked off by Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner, who returned the interception all the way down to the South Carolina three-yard line before being tackled by Cody Gibson. That tackle by Gibson would be huge as South Carolina responded as Swearinger eyed Worley the whole way on second down from the five and came away with an interception to give the ball back to the Garnet & Black on the Carolina two-yard line setting up the Gamecocks’ key drive of the game. The interception for Swearinger was his third of the season including the second straight game he has picked off an opponent in the red zone.