As Tom Petty would say, the waiting is the hardest part.
The Vols have been waiting nearly four years for a win over a ranked opponent.
After suffering through inexplicable too many men on the field penalties and fumbles at the end of games, the Vols finally broke through against South Carolina with a last second field goal, securing a 23-21 victory.
Early in the game the story line was Jadeveon Clowney’s domination of the Tennessee offensive line.
Clowney had his way with the Vols early, but Tennessee was able to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Vols had trouble containing quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Mike Davis, as the duo rushed for 78 yards and 137 yards respectively.
The Gamecocks surged to a 21-17 lead in the third quarter, but the Vols defense persevered and was able to come up with several key fourth quarter stops.
The Vols final drive began on their own 35 and looked to be stalling on third and 10 when Marquez North came up with an incredible one-handed catch.
From there the Vols continued to pound the ball on the ground until they ran the clock down to three seconds, setting up Michael Palardy’s game-winning field goal attempt, which he drilled to give the Vols the win.
Marquez North was certainly the star of the game for the Vols. The true freshman had three catches for 102 yards. Pig Howard added eight receptions for 33 yards.
Tennessee struggled to find running room on Saturday. Rajion Neal carried the ball 24 times for 77 yards and Marlin Lane ran the ball 12 times for 55 yards.
After the game Butch Jones said “Our kids hung in there and we found a way to win the football game”.
The Vols will take on Alabama next weekend at 3:30 pm ET on CBS.