Nov. 1, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Freshman Stephen Garcia threw two touchdown passes and South Carolina posted a 27-6 victory on Saturday night.
The victory was just the fourth over the Vols for the Gamecocks (6-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), who sent Tennessee (3-6, 1-5) to its second losing SEC record in the past four seasons.
A big reason was the heady play of Garcia, who passed for 139 yards and his two scoring throws before a third-quarter knee injury sent him to the sidelines.
Gamecocks players ran to the student section when it was over, celebrating their first win over the Vols at home in 16 years.
Even in down years for Tennessee, there's usually one sure thing -- the Vols beat South Carolina.
The Gamecocks won three times in 26 previous meetings: 1903, 1992 and 2005.
Just a year ago, the 4-3 Vols faced South Carolina and used a dramatic 27-24 OT victory to start a five-game win streak. Tennessee won the SEC Eastern Division and won 10 games.
Tennessee's stagnant offense had no solution for South Carolina's top-rated SEC defense.
And no one was stopping Garcia, not even an old Kentucky linebacker turned umpire. That's right, Wilbur Hackett Jr., who became an Internet sensation for his forearm-leading hit on Garcia two weeks ago in a loss to LSU here, was back at Williams-Brice Stadium as umpire.
Hackett stayed contact-free this time, although he had to duck to avoid Garcia's line-drive throw to Mike Davis on South Carolina's first TD.
Garcia, starting his second career game, went 4-for-4 for 80 yards on the drive, ended by the 12-yard pass to Davis.
Gamecocks cornerback Stoney Woodson jumped in front of Nick Stephens' pass and took it 68 yards for a touchdown to give South Carolina, at 14-0, its largest lead ever over the Vols in 16 years in the SEC.
The interception was Stephens' first of his career and Tennessee's first turnover in 193 snaps. The Vols didn't take nearly that long for their next one.
Garcia hit Kenny McKinley on a slant pattern for an all-too-easy score and a 21-0 lead.
Things were ugly for the Vols.
Stephens and Crompton were sacked six times and Tennessee was held under 10 points for the third time this season, a first in the Fulmer era.
The highlight might have been the career-long 71-yard punt of Britton Colquitt, the latest in the line of kicking Colquitts for Tennessee.
The Vols finished with minus-2 yards rushing in the opening half and their most productive play was a completion intended for Gerald Jones that bounced off him and landed in Arian Foster's hands for a 26-yard gain.
That drive would end soon enough, along with the Vols' chances of resuscitating an SEC season gone wrong.
Tennessee's third-quarter TD on Arian Foster's 1-yard leap averted an end to their streak of scoring in every game, which coincidently began 1994 after Spurrier's Gators blanked Fulmer and the Vols' 31-0.
A humbler Spurrier has sidestepped most questions this week about Fulmer's future, unlike the jabs "Darth Visor" routinely threw the Vols' way in the 1990s.
The way the Gamecocks dominated the Vols didn't leave much to say.