Things started off negative on the opening kickoff for South Carolina, when the kick resulted in a penalty when Ryan Succop kicked it out of bounds, giving the Vols the ball on their own 35.
The USC defense played valiantly for most of the first half, trying to keep their team in the game despite offensive turnovers and penalties. The Carolina D held the Volunteers to three and out on their first possession.
A block in the back penalty resulted in USC starting deep, from their own 12 yard line. But the Carolina offense ran the ball, and aided by a personal foul penalty against Tennessee drove down to the Vol 34, before stalling, when a Vol sack forced a USC punt to the UT ten yard line, and the Gamecocks had for the moment successfully reversed the field position.
USC again held the Vol offense to three and out, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the ball right back to Tennessee, instead of taking over on their own 45. In Spurrier-like fashion, UT struck quickly after the reversal of fortune, completing a 22 yard pass to the Carolina 49.
The Carolina defense stiffened again, forcing another UT punt. Instead of his own 45, Captain Munnerlyn then made a fair catch at his own seven, and field position had reversed again.
Cory Boyd broke loose for a 21 yard gain to the 34, and the Gamecocks seemed to be on the move again when Freddie Brown fumbled the ball and Tennessee returned it to the Carolina five yard line. A personal foul penalty against Chris Smelley moved the ball to the USC 2 yard line.
It took the Vols three tries, but they scored a touchdown to take the early lead 7-0.
A 23 yard return on the kickoff by Patrick Dimarco to the 38 gave USC good starting field position on the next drive Smelley was sacked for a seven yard loss on the next to last play of the first quarter.
Eric Berry intercepted a Chris Smelley pass on the first play of the second quarter and returned it to the USC 45. UT moved the ball down to the USC 36, and the Gamecocks appeared to have stopped the Vols on 4th and 1, when a late flag on Munnerlyn gave the Vols a first down on the 29 and new life. Brandon Isaac reinjured his shoulder on the next play.
Ainge first down passes to the 18 and six yard lines keyed the Vols' second scoring drive, which was capped by a three yard run by Montario Hardesty.
Blake Mitchell returned as quarterback on the next drive, and he moved the team for a first down, only to be moved back 15 yards to the 30 yard line on a personal foul against Garrett Anderson. The drive stalled, and the Gamecocks were again forced to punt.
The USC defense was clearly tiring when they gave up a 37 yard pass play to the Carolina 21, and then Tennessee drove at will for their third touchdown, this one capped by a five yard pass to Josh Briscoe.
After USC was unable to reach the red zone and forced to punt again, UT took over on their own seven yard line, and again drove down the field on a visibly tired USC defense to the Carolina 34 yard line, where with nine seconds left Daniel Lincoln attempted a 51 yard field goal.
South Carolina will start the second half by receiving the ball.
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