Tennessee 17, No. 22 S. Carolina 14
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Tennessee had failed so many times this season, Travis Henry didn’t want to fail again.
And given one more chance against South Carolina, he didn’t.
``It was for everything that we didn’t do this season,″ said Henry, who ended the Volunteers’ only dominating drive with a 1-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in Tennessee’s 17-14 victory over South Carolina on Saturday night. ``We showed the will, the power, the pride that we’ve had before.″
The loss dropped South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) from 17th to 22nd in the rankings.
Tennessee (4-3, 2-3) hasn’t come through late in games, and Henry thought he had jinxed the team again when he fumbled in the third quarter with South Carolina ahead 14-7.
``I told them if I got another shot, it wouldn’t happen again,″ said Henry, who rushed for 35 yards on the winning drive.
Henry, who had 115 yards and two touchdowns, converted two third downs before his winning score.
For a long time things weren’t going the Vols’ way.
The Volunteers had 127 yards through three quarters. Their only score came on Henry’s first 1-yard TD, after a muffed punt by Derek Watson deep in South Carolina territory.
But Tennessee got its act together in the final 15 minutes.
``I think this might have saved the season,″ Henry said. ``We just kept fighting and maybe wore them out.″
The Vols drove 34 yards for Alex Wells’ field goal and then went 68 yards for the winning score.
For South Carolina, it was a disappointing way to finish its home season. A victory would have sent the Gamecocks to Florida’s Swamp in two weeks for a shot at the SEC title game.
But South Carolina often looked like it did a year ago, when it averaged less than 8 points. This year’s team had been averaging more than 26 points.
Still, things were looking good after Ryan Brewer’s 78-yard touchdown catch put them up 14-7 in the third quarter.
But Tennessee had the ball for 12:38 of the final quarter and wore down South Carolina.
``This was critical, because we are going into an impossible situation at Florida,″ South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said. ``We can’t even move the ball here without mistakes.″
When Tennessee got inside South Carolina’s 30 on the next series, linebacker Shannon Wadley stripped tailback Travis Henry and defensive end Kalimba Edwards recovered.
But South Carolina, which had moved the ball for most of the game, couldn’t hold up against Tennessee’s defense. The Gamecocks went three-and-out on two fourth-quarter drives, and Phil Petty was sacked by Will Overstreet as time ran out.
South Carolina’s leading rusher, Watson, was held to 5 yards on 11 carries.
``Losing this one,″ Holtz said, ``is bitter.″