Spencer Rattler established career bests of 438 yards and six touchdowns as South Carolina delivered a likely fatal blow to Tennessee’s College Football Playoff hopes with a 63-38 thumping of the No. 5 Volunteers on Saturday night in Southeastern Conference play at Columbia, S.C.
Rattler also set a Gamecocks single-game record for touchdown passes while completing 30 of 37 throws.
Antwane Wells Jr. caught 11 passes for 177 yards and also rushed for a touchdown for South Carolina (7-4, 4-4 SEC). Dakereon Joyner rushed for two touchdowns, Jaheim Bell and Josh Vann each caught two touchdown passes and Jalen Brooks and Juju McDowell also had scoring catches for the Gamecocks.
Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker was 25-of-42 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with a left knee injury for Tennessee (9-2, 5-2). The Volunteers were outside the CFP top four teams prior to the beating and figure to spiral down the next rankings on Tuesday.
Cedric Tillman caught two touchdowns for Tennessee, including one from backup Joe Milton III. Bru McCoy and Princeton Fant also caught scoring passes and Jabari Small rushed for a touchdown.
South Carolina’s point total was its highest against an SEC opponent since a 65-39 victory over Mississippi State in 1995. The Gamecocks outgained the Volunteers 606 to 507.
Tennessee trailed by 18 late in the first half but moved within 35-31 on Hooker’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Fant with 9:53 left in the third quarter before the Gamecocks answered with four consecutive touchdowns.
Wells scored on a 3-yard run with 5:03 remaining in the period and Rattler threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Bell to make it 49-31 with 11:41 remaining in the contest.
Hooker lost a fumble on the play in which he was injured, and Jordan Burch recovered at the Tennessee 17-yard line with 11:28 left. Just over two minutes later, Joyner scored from the 3 to make it 56-31 with 9:26 to play.
Rattler punctuated the win with a 20-yard scoring pass to Brooks with 2:06 remaining.
Rattler passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns as South Carolina led 35-24 at the break.
Rattler threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Bell, 60 yards to Vann and 11 to McDowell in a first quarter that ended with the Gamecocks leading 21-7. Small scored on a 31-yard run for the Volunteers.
Vann’s second scoring reception — from 18 yards out — gave South Carolina a 35-17 lead with 2:04 left in the half. Hooker’s deflected pass was caught by McCoy for a 7-yard score with 12 seconds left as Tennessee moved within 11.
–Field Level Media