COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Jake Bentley threw for two touchdowns, Rico Dowdle ran for 127 yards and another score Saturday night, and South Carolina handed No. 18 Tennessee its third straight loss, 24-21.
The Gamecocks (4-4, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) had struggled on offense much of the season and were expected to be a comfortable bounce-back win for the powerhouse Vols (5-3, 2-3) after consecutive defeats to No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama.
Instead, South Carolina’s defense bottled up the Vols most of the game, holding them to 251 yards of offense. Joshua Dobbs threw for only 120 yards and was picked off twice by cornerback Jamarcus King, the final time with 3:50 left in the game and Tennessee needing a dramatic rally.
Tennessee got a final chance with 35 seconds left and drove to the South Carolina 41. But Aaron Medley’s desperation, 58 yard field goal attempt was well short on the final play.
First-year coach Will Muschamp improved to 5-0 all-time against Tennessee, the first four victories coming during his time at Florida.
Bentley was again on target in his second college start at quarterback. He threw for 167 yards and completed 15 of 20 passes, including a 17-yard TD throw to Bryan Edwards and a 35-yard scoring toss to K.C. Crosby in the final period to put South Carolina up 24-14.
Tennessee could not dig itself out of that hole and ended a three-game win streak against South Carolina.