Steve Spurrier got a little too cute in the fourth quarter, and it may have cost the Gamecocks a win. Tennessee upset South Carolina with a short field goal by Michael Palardy as time expired for a 23-21 victory.
South Carolina was stuck in a fourth down with two yards needed for a first down from South Carolina’s 26-yard line. Perhaps taking some extra time to contemplate an unorthodox decision to go for a first down with a one-point lead with 2:55 to play, Spurrier kept his offense on the field instead of sending the punt team out. After taking one timeout Spurrier once again sent his offense out. After a second timeout, Spurrier came to his senses and punted the football.
We will never know if the game’s outcome may have changed if Spurrier had those two timeouts left to use on Tennessee’s final possession. The Vols took over on their 35-yard line and strategically moved in to position for the final field goal, but a top-play worthy 39-yard pass from Justin Worley to Marquez North on third down helped any of it become a reality. Once inside the red zone the Vols kept the football on the ground through the running game, knowing South Carolina would have to hold on to their final timeout.
The win was the first in SEC play for Butch Jones and the result opens up the SEC East for Missouri, who was on track to pick up another win, this time against Florida. South Carolina travels to Missouri next week, and they could potentially do so without their starting quarterback.
Connor Shaw was taken down by Tennessee’s Marlon Walls in the fourth quarter and needed to be helped off the field with an apparent left knee injury. Shaw suffered a left knee strain but was not taken to the locker room. Dylan Thompson took over at quarterback for one play before the Gamecocks had to punt.