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South Carolina vs. Tennessee, recap and final score: Gamecocks win 15-9 nailbiter in Neyland

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NCAA Football: South Carolina at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina almost let win #5 on the season get away from them, but a last-second defensive stand deep inside the Tennessee red zone saw them hold on for a 15-9 win over the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium.

It was nothing but field goals in the first half as South Carolina’s defense and offense was lacking to start, partially due to an injury to Rico Dowdle that knocked the running back out of the game. Nonetheless, Tennessee couldn’t take advantage of red zone opportunities as they led only 9-3 at the break.

But South Carolina found the end zone first following a methodical drive down the field, ending in a 20-yard carry by AJ Turner that tied it at 9 before the ensuing PAT failed after a botched snap. The Gamecocks defense stepped it up in the second half, and that, coupled with some downhill running and a tired Volunteer defense, helped them put together a lengthy drive to set up a successful 21-yard field goal by Parker White, making it 12-9 with 5:17 left in regulation. On the ensuing Tennessee possession, a strip sack by Dante Sawyer (probably could have been a fumble) and mind-numbing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by a Vols offensive player meant that Tennessee would punt in front of its own end zone, leading to great field position for South Carolina inside four and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter. They made it 15-9 with 1:13 left on another White field goal.

That botched PAT almost came back to bite the Gamecocks. South Carolina inexplicably went to prevent defense on the ensuing Vols possession and allowed Tennessee to get to the 2 yard line, but Jarrett Guarantano’s pass to the end zone with one second left was batted down to preserve the South Carolina win - barely.