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Knoxville, TN

Late fumble gives Vols 27-24 win over Gamecocks

2877 days ago
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Jalen Reeves-Maybin recovered a fumble deep in Tennessee territory with 32 seconds remaining Saturday to preserve the Volunteers' 27-24 triumph over South Carolina.

South Carolina (3-6, 1-6 SEC) was seeking a game-tying or game-winning score when Jerell Adams caught a pass inside the Tennessee 35 and started spinning away from defenders as he headed into the red zone. Adams was trying to gain extra yardage when Malik Foreman knocked the ball out of his left arm.

Reeves-Maybin recovered at the Tennessee 13 to seal the victory.

Tennessee's Aaron Medley kicked a tiebreaking 27-yard field goal with 9:14 left and Joshua Dobbs threw two touchdown passes as the Volunteers (5-4, 3-3) won despite blowing a 17-0 lead.

South Carolina's Perry Orth rallied the Gamecocks by throwing touchdown passes on three straight third-quarter possessions, including a 7-yarder to Adams on fourth-and-goal.

The frantic finish was only fitting for an annual series that recently has featured plenty of late drama. The last four Tennessee-South Carolina games have been decided by a total of 11 points.

South Carolina won 38-35 in 2012 after Tennessee fumbled in the red zone with just over a minute left. Tennessee won 23-21 in 2013 on a field goal as time expired and won 45-42 in overtime last year.

The start of the game certainly didn't foreshadow a close contest.

Tennessee grabbed a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter as Alvin Kamara had a 4-yard touchdown run and Dobbs threw a 37-yard scoring strike to Von Pearson on the Vols' first two possessions. Pearson finished with eight catches for 121 yards.

The Vols led 17-0 before South Carolina's Elliott Fry kicked a 43-yard field goal with 1:03 left in the first half.

South Carolina turned things around with a stunning surge from Orth, who entered the night having thrown just four touchdown passes on 127 attempts all season. He nearly matched that total in the third quarter alone.

The Gamecocks also capitalized some creative play calling.

South Carolina cut Tennessee's lead to 17-10 on a 10-yard completion from Orth to Jonathan Walton, a linebacker who hadn't played offense all season before lining up in the backfield Saturday.

The comeback included a major gamble by interim head coach Shawn Elliott.

Facing fourth-and-goal from the 7, South Carolina didn't bother attempting a field goal that would have cut the lead to 17-13 and instead kept its offense on the field. Orth rewarded Elliott's faith in him by firing a completion across the middle to Adams.

South Carolina benefited from facing a Tennessee secondary that played most of the game without starting safety Brian Randolph, who was ejected due to a targeting penalty in the first quarter. Tennessee also played the first half without cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who was penalized for targeting in the second half of a victory over Kentucky last week.

The Gamecocks' comeback continued a troubling trend for Tennessee, which led in each of its four losses this season and was ahead by at least 13 points in three of those defeats.

This time, Tennessee bounced back after squandering one more two-touchdown advantage.


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