Vols trip Cocks in OT

Same song, different key.

The South Carolina Gamecocks have given Tennessee's football team fits the past four years, yet each time the Vols made a big play at game's end to pull out the victory. Three years in a row the key was Casey Clausen. He hit Donte' Stallworth with a 23-yard pass on third-and-14 to extend the game-winning drive three years ago in Columbia. He hit Bobby Graham with a 32-yard strike on third-and-21 to fuel the game-winning drive two years ago in Knoxville. Then Clausen scored himself on a five-yard bootleg to provide the clinching fourth-quarter TD last season in Columbia.

This time, however, there was a new key ... James Banks.

Banks beat All-SEC cornerback Dunta Robinson on a fade route, then gathered in a four-yard toss from Clausen to provide the winning margin in overtime as the Vols nipped the Gamecocks 23-20 Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

''It was a great throw,'' Vol head man Phillip Fulmer said, ''and an even better catch. James Banks is a playmaker.''

The game was tied at 17-all through four quarters. Tennessee's scores came on a nine-yard pass from Clausen to C.J. Fayton, a three-yard run by Cedric Houston and a 33-yard field goal by James Wilhoit. Carolina's points came on a one-yard run by Daccus Turman, a one-yard pass from Dondrial Pinkins to Hart Turner and a 37-yard field goal by Daniel Weaver.

Weaver booted another field goal, a 24-yarder, to give Carolina a 20-17 lead in overtime. After four Houston runs left Tennessee facing a third-and-goal at the Gamecock 4-yard line, the Vols needed a big play to win the game. They got one.

''I told James I was coming to him,'' Clausen said. ''Big players make big plays, and this was a big win for us.''

Banks said Houston's success running on the previous four plays made the touchdown pass easier to execute.

''Cedric Houston ran the ball down there. Because he was running the ball so well, I came around and told Casey, 'If it's one-on-one (coverage) over there, throw me the ball, man.' He looked at me and said, 'Here it comes.' ''

Fulmer noted that his team ''found a way to make the plays to win,'' but conceded that his team ''didn't do well at anything ... except the punting.''

Fortunately for the Vols, punter Dustin Colquitt had a career day, averaging 51.7 yards per kick and putting three punts inside the Carolina five-yard line.

''He certainly won the game tonight,'' Fulmer said, subsequently noting that, ''We had field position all night, and Carolina never did.''

Asked how he felt about losing every phase of the game except the punting, the Vol boss took exception to the comment.

''They (Gamecocks) didn't beat us in every phse but punting,'' he quipped. ''We had more points, so we won THAT phase.''

Carolina kept the game close thanks to freshman running back Demetris Summers, who shredded Tennessee's defense for 158 yards on 27 carries. Fulmer called Summers ''a very fine back'' but added that the Vols ''didn't tackle well.''

UT defensive end Constantin Ritzmann thought much of Summers' success could be attributed to South Carolina's scheming.

''It was the scheme; it wasn't only him,'' Ritzmann said. ''He did a good job running the ball but there were a lot of misdirection plays where they'd start him one way, then cut back to the other side. And we had some alignment problems. We'll do better next game.... This is not going to happen again.''

Clausen finished 13 of 22 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Cedric Houston paced UT rishers with 86 yards on 24 carries. Banks caught three balls for 28 yards and a touchdown. C.J. Fayton caught a nine-yard touchdown pass and turned a lateral into a 15-yard gain. Tony Brown had two catches for 51 yards. James Wilhoit nailed a 33-yard field goal and put several kickoffs deep in the end zone for touchbacks.

Like Tennessee's offense, the Vol defense struggled all evening. Though statistically one of the SEC's weaker offenses, South Carolina shredded Tennessee for 371 yards, including 217 rushing yards. Dondrial Pinkins completed just 12 of 29 passes but included gains of 43, 29, 27 and 21 yards among his completions.

''The quarterback threw the ball exceptionally well,'' Fulmer noted. ''He's dangerous when he gets hot.''

Still, Tennessee's poor defensive play made Pinkins & Company look better than they probably are.

''Our defense was suspect,'' Fulmer conceded. ''We gave up too many big plays.''

Finally, the coach hinted that his team may have been emotionally drained by last weekend's big win at Florida.

''So much (of performing well) is being emotionally ready to play your best,'' he said. ''We may have left a little bit on the field last week.''

Indeed. Tennessee seemed a little bit flat all night. But when the fourth quarter came -- as always seems to be the case against South Carolina -- the Vols reached into their bag of tricks and came up with a big play.

It was the same old song, except with a different key.


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