KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Connor Shaw threw for one touchdown and ran for another as No. 14 South Carolina survived Tennessee with a 14-3 victory on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (7-1, 5-1) remain in control of the Southeastern Conference’s East Division heading into the final month of the season.
It was their first game without star Marcus Lattimore, who had 818 yards rushing for the year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 15 against Mississippi State. Coach Steve Spurrier had a bye week to prepare a plan for Brandon Wilds and the rest of the South Carolina backfield.
Wilds gradually picked up steam as the game wore on and finished with 137 yards on 28 carries.
He was the centerpiece of a methodical drive that ate up much of the third-quarter. He ran 11 times for 51 yards on the 20-play drive, and Shaw finished it off with a 5-yard touchdown run on a draw that gave the Gamecocks a 14-3 lead with 47 seconds in the third quarter.
The drive threatened to deflate the Vols (3-5, 0-5), who had second-half meltdowns in three previous games. After picking up one first down, Justin Worley threw three straight incomplete passes, and the Vols punted.
But Brian Randolph recovered a fumble by Wilds on the next drive at the South Carolina 27. The breath of life was short-lived as Worley threw an interception on the very first play to Stephon Gilmore.
Tennessee’s defense managed to keep pressure on Shaw most of the night, sacking him three times. Shaw was 10 for 18 for 87 yards and an interception in addition to his scores, and top wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was limited to just 17 yards on three catches.
Early in the second half, Shaw was picked off by Prentiss Waggner, who ran the ball 54 yards to the 2-yard line before being tackled, but Worley threw an interception of his own two plays later to D.J. Swearinger that set up the Gamecocks’ 20-play drive.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley named Worley the starter this week after Matt Simms struggled against No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. Worley has been the third-string quarterback most of the season as Simms had replaced Tyler Bray, who broke his thumb Oct. 8 against Georgia.
The true freshman was 10 of 26 for 105 yards and the two interceptions. He had several long, accurate passes but just as many glaring misses.
The Vols managed to take advantage of one South Carolina mistake. After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Vols punted the ball only to get it back at the Gamecocks 18 when Ace Sanders muffed the return.
They got as close as the 4-yard line, but Worley missed DeAnthony Arnett and overthrew Da’Rick Rogers, and Tennessee settled for a 22-yard field goal by Michael Palardy.
Tennessee again reached the red zone just before the first quarter ended. Dooley was ready for the Vols to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the 20, but they committed back-to-back false start penalties, and Palardy’s 47-yard field goal attempt was tipped by Gilmore and sailed wide right.
South Carolina’s only first-half score came on a fourth-and-1. Tennessee blitzed, but Shaw went instead for the play-action pass and hit Rory Anderson on a 23-yard touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
South Carolina finished with 318 yards — 231 of them on the ground — compared to 186 yards for Tennessee. The Gamecocks held on to the ball for 12:36 longer than the Vols.
The win was only the second by South Carolina against Tennessee in Knoxville in 16 tries.