3. Key defensive penalties aided South Carolina’s dominance.
When Tennessee football was actually stopping the Gamecocks, the Vols were finding ways to keep them on the field. When the Vols appeared to finally get their first defensive stop in the first half, Brandon Turnage drew a holding penalty on 3rd and 11 to keep the drive alive.
Later on in that same drive, Spencer Rattler was sacked for an eight-yard loss. However, a holding penalty by Kamal Hadden gave them a first down. In case you’re wondering, yes, South Carolina went down and scored a touchdown on that drive, which at the time gave them a commanding 35-17 lead and really caused panic mode to set in.
Things got even worse on South Carolinas’ knockout drive to go up 49-31 in the fourth quarter. The Vols seemed to hold them to a field goal after an incompletion on 3rd and goal, but Tyler Baron was flagged for an illegal hands to the face, which gave them a first down.
Then, on 2nd and 3, there was another incomplete pass, but Hadden was flagged for pass interference for playing overly aggressive when he probably didn’t have to. South Carolina scored a play later, and by that point, they had complete control of the game. Desperation had set in by that point, and it’s what led to the Hendon Hooker injury the following drive.