Vols Hold Off South Carolina For 31-27 Victory In Columbia

Saturday, September 26, 2020
Tennessee's Henry To'o To'o celebrates after returning an interception 32 yards for a Volunteer touchdown. The Vols defeated South Carolina 31-27 in the season opener for both schools Saturday night in Columbia.
Tennessee's Henry To'o To'o celebrates after returning an interception 32 yards for a Volunteer touchdown. The Vols defeated South Carolina 31-27 in the season opener for both schools Saturday night in Columbia.
- photo by Tennessee Athletic Communications

The Tennessee Vols held off South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, winning their seventh straight going back to last season. It is the longest win streak in college football among Power 5 squads after last year's 1-4 start.

Tennessee true freshman Jimmy Holiday pounced on a punt with just a minute and a half left that bounced off the leg of a Gamecock player. Instead of defending a last-minute drive, the Vols were able to run out the clock.

Tennessee led 14-7 at the half, with the defense stiffening after giving up an early Gamecock touchdown. Tennessee was still ahead 24-21 at the end of the third quarter. 

After taking the game's opening kickoff, the Gamecocks got on the board first when Kevin Harris took it in to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive. South Carolina could muster only 18 more offensive yards for the rest of the half. 

Guarantano led a 90-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the game. Then Henry To'o To'o intercepted a Collin Hill pass early in the second quarter and went 32 yards to pay dirt.

Tennessee had a 74-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter to move ahead 21-7, with

Eric Gray taking it in just after a 19-yard Guarantano scamper.  But the Gamecocks' offense came alive with two quick scores.

After the teams traded field goals, it was 24-24 with 10:48 on the clock. Guarantano then had his 32-yard strike to Palmer in the right side of the end zone.  

Tennessee scoring was highlighted by a spectacular one-handed grab by fifth-year senior Brandon Johnson from Guarantano. For the night, Guarantano was 19 of 31 for 259 yards. Johnson had 73 yards on three carries.

Palmer racked up 85 yards on six receptions.

Ty Chandler had 83 yards of the ground on 14 carries and Gray picked up 43 on 11 carries. 

Brent Cimaglia missed his first field goal try far to the nail, but nailed his second opportunity.

Guarantano now has piled up 5,254 yards of total offense in his career, moving him past current UT assistant head coach Tee Martin (5,206 yards from 1996-99) and into eighth place in program history.

The game was played with fans in the stadium, but they were scattered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tennessee next Saturday will host Missouri for a noon ET kickoff at Neyland Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network, and tickets remain available at AllVols.com


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