Tennessee romps past Gamecocks
Published 12:04 am Tuesday, October 12, 2021
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
KNOXVILLE – The excitement continues to build as the Tennessee Volunteers showed what the Coach Josh Heupel brand of football has brought to Knoxville as the Vols built a 38-7 halftime advantage and cruised in the second half to a 40-20 victory for their second consecutive win over an SEC opponent.
Tennessee punched the visitors from Columbia, South Carolina in the mouth in the first quarter scoring four times against a Gamecock defense that just couldn’t stop the Vols from finding the end zone.
The quick-paced offense put their first points on the board when Jalin Hyatt hauled in a three-yard scoring toss from Hendon Hooker to give the Vols a 7-0 lead after Chase McGrath put the ball through the uprights on the extra-point attempt.
Defensively, the Vols were making life tough for the Gamecocks forcing quick turnarounds to get the ball back in the hands of their offense.
Hooker, who was named the Vols starting quarterback earlier in the week, showed just why Heupel elected to go with the Virginia Tech transfer as he hit JaVonta Payton on a 39-yard strike to extend the Vols lead to 14-0 with 6:46 left in the first quarter after McGrath’s kick was true.
The Vols weren’t done in the quarter as Hooker scrambled into the checkerboard end zone with 58 seconds left to play and following McGrath’s boot, the Vols were up 21-0.
Vols defensive back recovered a South Carolina fumble at the Gamecock 24-yard line and Tennessee wasted no time in putting the ball across the goal line as Hooker found Velus Jones Jr. for a 21-yard scoring strike with only 12 seconds left on the first-quarter clock and the Vols had the majority of the 89,437 in attendance in a frenzy leading 28-0 as the opening quarter came to an end.
As the second quarter was winding toward halftime, Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans electrified the crowd by racing 45 yards to the end zone to make it a 35-0 game with 5:40 to play in the first half.
After Carolina managed to finally crack the egg on their side of the scoreboard when Kevin Harris crashed across the goal line on a six-yard run to make the score 35-7 with 2:04 remaining before intermission.
Tennessee tacked on a 25-yard field goal by McGrath to make the halftime score 38-7 in favor of the black-clad Vols.
In the second half, the Vols appeared to decide to go on recess as the offense that was on the field in the opening half was almost invisible in the final 30 minutes of the contest scoring a lone touchdown on a Len’Neth Whitehead two-yard plunge with under five minutes to play in the game. McGrath converted the point-after.
Statistically, Tennessee finished with 472 yards of offense for the game with 247 yards coming on the ground and 225 yards through the air as Hooker completed 17-of-23 passes in the contest and the three passing scores.
Evans led the ground attack with 16 carries covering 119 yards and one score with Hooker toting the pigskin 20 times for 91 yards and a score.
Jones Jr. hauled in seven receptions covering 103 yards and a scoring reception.
Defensively, Brandon Turnage made the most of his start recording 14 tackles (seven assisted, seven unassisted) with two going for loss. Jeremy Banks was credited with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks in the game.