After darting out to a fast start, Tennessee had to withstand a modest second-half surge from South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference tilt Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
The Volunteers, who opened a big halftime lead, did enough to capture a 45-20 victory over the Gamecocks.
Tennessee (4-2, 2-1 SEC) scored on five of its first six possessions of the contest en route to opening a 38-7 halftime lead against the Gamecocks (3-3,0-3).
Vols’ quarterback Hendon Hooker accounted for four touchdowns as he threw three scoring strikes and rushed for a touchdown as UT posted a dominant performance in the game’s first 30 minutes.
Hooker was 17-for-23 for 225 yards and had touchdown passes to Jalin Hyatt, JaVonta Payton and Velus Jones Jr.
Hooker also had an 11-yard touchdown in the first half.
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws to a receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
South Carolina scored its first touchdown on a 6-yard run by Kevin Harris late in the second quarter.
UT kicker Chase McGrath kicked a 26-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the Vols the 38-7 lead they enjoyed at halftime.
Tennessee sputtered a bit after the break and the Gamecocks scored on Harris’ second touchdown run of the contest and South Carolina successfully executed a fake punt when Kai Kroger uncorked a touchdown pass to backup tight end Payton Mangrum to make the score 38-14 early in the third stanza.
Defensively, Jaylen McCollough had an interception and Aaron Beasley recovered a fumble for the Big Orange.
Jones Jr. had six receptions for 103 yards and Tiyon Evans, who had a touchdown run, rushed for 119 yards on 16 carries.