Among the results during a wild day in the SEC was Tennessee's upset victory over South Carolina. The Volunteers trailed for the vast majority of the fourth quarter, but a last-second field goal gave them a 23-21 win over the ranked Gamecocks, giving head man Butch Jones his first significant win with the Vols in the process.
Jones and the Vols still have much work ahead of them in order to return to form as perennial conference contenders, but this victory serves as an important early marker in Jones' tenure, and for Tennessee fans, it's the sort of win that will help them move on from the team's struggles under Derek Dooley.
Butch Jones has made this a team in ways Derek Dooley I think truly could not have comprehended. And that's a big point too: Today we'll talk about Dooley some because this was the biggest thing he could never do, but today was also the inch that allows us to leave the past behind and truly move forward. Today Tennessee severed ties with words like "cursed." How high Butch Jones will ultimately build this thing we'll spend years finding out. But make no mistake: Today feels like freedom.
Tennessee has endured its share of bad breaks this season -- the end of its overtime loss to Georgia being a case in point -- but on Saturday the Vols made their own luck, with the help of Marquez North, who made this incredible one-handed grab on the game-winning drive:
That play got the Volunteers into field goal range, and the ground game took things from there, eventually setting up a chip-shot field goal attempt for Michael Palardy.
On the other side of the outcome, Gamecocks fans are left lamenting what could have been. South Carolina and Tennessee traded punts several times before the Vols finally put together the game-winning series, and a scoring drive by the Gamecocks somewhere in that time frame could have helped them lock up a win. It didn't help that quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game in the final quarter.
Over at South Carolina blog Garnet And Black Attack, they are appreciative of the defensive effort, but they also acknowledge how much the mistakes made on offense cost the team:
Unfortunately, the Gamecocks have little to blame but themselves for this loss. Poor offensive execution by QB Connor Shaw and our receivers and poor timeout management by Spurrier gave the Vols their chance to win the game. Carolina had multiple chances to put the game away over the course of the fourth quarter, but our receivers couldn't make plays and Shaw reverted to his old habit of not getting the ball out quickly enough.
The Gamecocks fell to 5-2 (3-2) with the loss, making their game against Missouri this week absolutely essential to their lilting division title hopes.
Here are the highlights from Tennessee's triumph: