Vols clip Gamecocks in OT


Photo by Dave Boyd
Tennessee tailback Cedric Houston (21) scores on a three-yard run in the first quarter.

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
KNOXVILLE-It was like the '70s hit television show "Three's Company" Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.
The South Carolina Gamecock defense, the SEC Officials and a star named Summers gave the Tennessee Volunteers an absolute fit.
But despite the charge of the Lou Holtz-led group, Tennessee was able to bounce around a South Carolina field goal when Casey Clausen hit James Banks on a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Vols a tight 23-20 victory in overtime.
"Coming into the game we had a certain amount of things we wanted to work on," said Clausen. "We got into a formation and needed a first down. I was pressed and threw a fade to James, and it was a big play for us."
"We had certain formations that we knew we could take advantage of the defense in," added Banks, who made a spectacular catch on the game-winning play. "The overall game, we didn't execute well in the first half. As soon as they kicked that field goal, we said we weren't going into another overtime.
"When we got into the huddle, I told Casey I was one-on-one and told him I wanted the ball. He said it's yours. I thank God that I caught it."
South Carolina (3-2) ran the ball well throughout the entire game, led by a tough Demetrius Summers. Summers gained 167 yards on 27 carries.
"I don't know what to tell you. We're glad to get the win," said Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer. "We were pleased with that and had a lot to learn from with this tape. You've got to take your hat off to South Carolina, who played a great game."
Apparently the SEC Officials deemed it "Pick On Tennessee Day."
In a close battle, unclear penalties against the Vols kept the visiting team in scoring position, while bad ball spotting gave punter Dustin Colquitt a lot of practice.
But Colquitt came through as one of the Tennessee stars offensively and defensively, averaging 51.7 yards per punt with a long of 63, and he received the game ball for his effort.
"I don't know about a Heisman winner, but if it could go to a punter, Dustin Colquitt would win it," Fulmer said.
"Well, games are won by offense defense and special teams and that's what we did tonight," Colquitt added. "Everybody played well and when it came down to it, we all got a win and we've got to square it away on Monday."
South Carolina had a hard time on offense early as Tennessee forced it to punt. Marvin Mitchell stepped up with a block on the Josh Brown kick, allowing Derrick Tinsley to recover it at the 10.
It only took Tennessee two plays to find the end zone as Clausen reached C.J. Fayton for a 9-yard score.
The solid backfield duo of Summers and Daccus Turmin led the Gamecocks back, running it over the Volunteer defense before an interference penalty gave Turmin room for a one-yard plunge to tie it up.
Clausen wouldn't allow the South Carolina momentum to invade Shields-Watkins Field as he hit Troy Fleming, Troy Brown and Mark Jones with throws before Houston ran it three yards to score.
Dondrial Pinkins went to the air for South Carolina on its next possession, using some nice throws and Summers runs to put the 'Cocks inside the five-yard line. Tennessee held the visitors three times on the one-yard line before Pinkins found Hart Turner with a one-yard touchdown to tie it up at 14 apiece inside the second quarter.
Neither team could muster up another scoring drive until Clausen got hot through the air again for Tennessee. Grabs from James Banks and Fleming set up James Wilhoit with a 33-yard field goal to put the Vols on top going into the second half.
Both sides struggled early in the third quarter, but South Carolina found its groove on its second stanza in the half when Pinkings hit Syvelle Newton and Mikal Goodman with gains of 21 and 43, respectively, to give Daniel Weaver room for a 37-yard field goal, which tied it again at 17 into the fourth.
Tennessee took the first drive of the fourth quarter, getting some big gains from Houston. A holding penalty forced the Vols to try a 45-yard field goal, which Wilhoit missed.
Bad penalties and placement highlighted the next possessions from both squads. South Carolina had the most success offensively, but an offensive pass interference call with under three minutes to go gave Tennessee the ball with time.
The Vols didn't have much luck as they were forced to punt with 1:04 left on the clock. South Carolina ran the clock out to put it in overtime, where Tennessee kept the squad at bay despite an interference call.
Holtz opted to go for the field goal and Weaver came through with a 24-yarder to take a 20-17 lead.
The Vols immediately found what they had early in the first half with the offense, when Houston made some solid runs to put Tennessee inside the ten with a third down.
It allowed Clausen to throw the fade pass to James, who caught it with one-on-one pressure before the Volunteer bench erupted with the 26-23 win.
Clausen finished the game with 149 yards passing and two touchdowns in the victory, while Houston led the team in rushing with 96 yards on 24 carries.
"I'm happy with the win, but I'm disappointed in the way the offense played in the second half," added Clausen. "We're still looking for that complete game. But it's a big win for us and we've got to continue to grow."
The Volunteers travel to Auburn for a big conference battle next Saturday night.