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(Saturday, October 31st)
Final Score: Tennessee 31, (21) South Carolina 13
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Jonathan Crompton threw two touchdowns and Montario Hardesty scored twice via the ground, as Tennessee rebounded from last week's heartbreaking setback to Alabama with a 31-13 victory over 21st- ranked South Carolina.
Tennessee had a last-second field goal blocked that could have defeated the Crimson Tide.
Crompton finished with 142 yards on 12-of-24 efficiency, while Hardesty rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries for the Volunteers (4-4, 2-3 SEC), who took advantage of four South Carolina turnovers to win for the second time in three games.
"You get four turnovers on defense and give up none on offense, you're going to win a lot of games," said Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. "It was good to have a game like that for our players to see because we talk about it all the time. We give them percentages on when you win the turnover margin. At plus- four, you always win. It's a great lesson for our guys to see that when you do that the other stuff doesn't really matter. You can play sloppy, complete 50 percent of balls and get a few penalties and still win."
Stephen Garcia completed half of his 50 pass attempts for 300 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Gamecocks (6-3, 3-3), who are 1-14 all- time at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee capitalized quickly on a pair of fumble recoveries to grab an early lead.
South Carolina turned the ball over three plays into the game's opening drive. With the Gamecocks facing a 3rd-and-8 from their own 29, the Vols came with the blitz, but Garcia found a wide-open Justice Cunningham for a 14-yard completion. Cunningham failed to secure the ball following a huge hit, however, and Tennessee recovered.
Two plays later, Crompton connected with Austin Johnson down the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown.
Kenny Miles coughed the ball up on the ensuing series for South Carolina, and Hardesty's 14-yard touchdown run gave Tennessee a 14-0 cushion four minutes into the contest.
"We had two fumbles in five plays and it's hard to beat a team when you spot them those points," said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier.
Poor ball security continued to plague the Gamecocks as Garcia lost the handle in his own territory. Once again, an opportunistic Tennessee offense transformed the turnover and positive field position into points, with Crompton floating a two-yard TD pass to Kevin Cooper in the early stages of the second quarter.
Spencer Lanning kicked a 47-yard field goal to put South Carolina on the board at the end of the first half. Lanning converted from 32 yards out to trim Tennessee's lead to 21-6 with 6:40 to play in the third quarter.
After Hardesty rumbled for a seven-yard score with 3:25 remaining, Moe Brown hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Garcia less than two minutes later to cap a three-play, 77-yard drive.
Chad Cunningham drilled a 39-yard field goal in the final frame on the heels of a Garcia interception to account for the final margin.
The Vols own a commanding 22-4-2 advantage in the all-time series...South Carolina was limited to 65 rushing yards on 20 attempts...The Gamecocks play their final road game of the season next Saturday against Arkansas, while Tennessee hosts Memphis.
11/01 00:56:25 ET