12:00 PM ET, October 19, 2013
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Connor Shaw hurt as No. 11 South Carolina falls to Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Michael Palardy lived up to his word.
Palardy made a 19-yard field goal as time expired Saturday for a 23-21 victory over No. 11 South Carolina that ended the Volunteers' 19-game losing streak against ranked opponents. Palardy had predicted such a scenario a day earlier in a conversation with Tennessee coach Butch Jones.
Low: Vols Break Through
The Vols' march back to relevance suddenly seems a lot more realistic after their last-second victory over No. 11 South Carolina, writes Chris Low. Blog
"I said, 'You've got the game-winner tomorrow, right?' " Jones said. "And he said, 'I got you, Coach.' "
The loss may have proved doubly painful for South Carolina, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. Quarterback Connor Shaw left the game after being sacked by Marlon Walls and Daniel McCullers with less than five minutes remaining. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said afterward that Shaw had a sprained knee.
"I think he sort of got tackled on it," Spurrier said. "It collapsed under him, he said."
An MRI on Shaw's left knee on Saturday night did not show any torn ligaments. Shaw will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
Tennessee (4-3, 1-2 SEC) got into field-goal range on a spectacular 39-yard catch by freshman Marquez North, who snared the ball with his left hand at the South Carolina 26 while being closely covered by cornerback Ahmad Christian down the left sideline. Four consecutive runs by Marlin Lane got the Vols to the South Carolina 2 and set up the field goal.
Palardy celebrated his game-winning kick by racing to join his teammates on the sideline closest to the Tennessee locker room, where they gathered to celebrate at about the 15-yard line. They later ran to the other side of the field to celebrate with Tennessee's band and students.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones chest-bumped athletic director Dave Hart on his way off the field.
"It meant everything, to be honest with you," Palardy said. "It's been a long time coming."
Mike Davis rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown for South Carolina (5-2, 3-2), which erased a 17-7 halftime deficit before falling. Shaw had a touchdown run and a touchdown pass, though he also was 7 of 21 and threw his first interception of the season, ending a string of 177 consecutive passes without getting picked off.
"They came out, played fast, did the things we expect them to do," Davis said. "We just didn't execute."
Tennessee hadn't beaten a ranked foe since a 31-13 victory over No. 21 South Carolina on Oct. 31, 2009. But on a day when hundreds of former Volunteers joined the team Saturday in running onto Neyland Stadium, Tennessee finally started playing like the Vols of old.
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About 250 former Tennessee players, including All-Pro selections Al Wilson and Jamal Lewis, joined the team in going through the "T" and onto the playing field before the game.
"I was shaking all those guys' hands earlier and told them, 'We've got your back,' " Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson said. "We're trying to get Tennessee back to where it needs to be. I think we took the first step to getting there."
The presence of all those former Vols seemed to inspire Tennessee.
Tennessee took a 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal that was set up by a targeting penalty on South Carolina safety Kadetrix Marcus that resulted in his ejection. Marcus had hit Alton "Pig" Howard at the end of a 12-yard reception.
After Shaw's 76-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd put South Carolina ahead 7-3 on the first play of the second quarter, Tennessee reached the end zone on its next two series. Justin Worley threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Howard and Rajion Neal added a 5-yard touchdown run.
"It's ultimately a matter of belief," Jones said. "I thought our team took a valuable step forward two weeks ago. It was gut-wrenching, but also our kids believed and they built confidence. Confidence is a powerful thing. Belief is a powerful thing. We've pointed to this game for a long period of time."
South Carolina regained the momentum after a gutsy fourth-down call.
Shaw scrambled 9 yards for the first down on fourth-and-8 from the Tennessee 45. Shaw capped the drive by pitching right to Davis on third-and-6 for a 21-yard touchdown.
After Palardy's 46-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left on Tennessee's next possession, South Carolina grabbed a 21-17 lead Shaw's 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Tennessee cut the lead to 21-20 with 10:11 remaining on Palardy's 33-yard field goal, which was set up by North's leaping 48-yard reception. But the Vols stalled after reaching South Carolina territory on their next two possessions.
South Carolina, which has gone 6 of 6 on fourth-down conversions over the last two weeks, considered trying to put away the game with one more fourth-down attempt. South Carolina faced fourth-and-2 from its own 26 with about three minutes left when Spurrier kept his offense on the field and called two straight timeouts before finally opting to punt.
"We were thinking about going for it," Spurrier said. "We went up there and if it looked good, we were thinking about going for it. Then, the second time, they actually changed their defense a little bit. We thought we had a little bit of a hole there. ... But looking back, I always tell myself to go for those."
That punt set the stage for Palardy to reward Jones' faith in him.
"He tells me every day to visualize a game-winning kick because sooner or later it would come down to it," Palardy said. "Sure enough, he was right."
Information from ESPN.com's Chris Low and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Michael Palardy notched a 19-yard field goal as time expired to secure the win and snap the Vols' 19-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
Gameball goes to... Marquez North. The freshman contributed to the victory with a 39-yard catch, putting the Vols in field goal range and setting up Palardy for the kick.
Stat of the game... 19, 16. The Vols hadn't beaten a ranked opponent in 19 games, the last time being in 2009. They also had lost 16 of their last 18 SEC games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-14||5-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|FG||09:14||Michael Palardy 37 Yd||0||3|
|TD||14:50||Damiere Byrd 76 Yd Pass From Connor Shaw (Elliott Fry Kick)||7||3|
|TD||10:12||Alton Howard 6 Yd Pass From Justin Worley (Michael Palardy Kick)||7||10|
|TD||06:11||Rajion Neal 5 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||7||17|
|TD||09:46||Mike Davis 21 Yd Run (Elliott Fry Kick)||14||17|
|TD||02:50||Connor Shaw 1 Yd Run (Elliott Fry Kick)||21||17|
|FG||10:11||Michael Palardy 33 Yd||21||20|
|FG||00:00||Michael Palardy 19 Yd||21||23|
Tennessee had lost its last 19 straight games against AP-ranked opponents before winning today. Tennessee vs AP-Ranked Opponents Since 2009 W-L Coach 2013 1-3 Butch Jones 2012 0-5 Derek Dooley 2011 0-5 Derek Dooley 2010 0-5 Derek Dooley 2009 1-3<< Lane Kiffin >>Win came Oct. 31 home vs No. 21 South Carolina
Tennessee Last 2 Wins vs Ranked Teams 2009 2013 Date Oct. 31 Oct. 19 Location Home Home Opponent South Carolina South Carolina Opp AP Rank No. 21 No. 11 Coach Lane Kiffin Butch Jones
ESPN Stats & Information