Junior quarterback Spencer Rattler balled out and the defense locked in as the South Carolina football team upset No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 Saturday night.
Rattler played the best game of his career, including his time with Oklahoma. He set new career highs in passing yards and touchdowns with 438 yards and six touchdowns.
“Had a couple of tough losses these past couple of weeks. And we knew this game, and obviously the next one, can change the narrative of the program forever,” Rattler said. “That was one of the best wins ever in college football history.”
Rattler's favorite target in the game was junior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. He had 16 targets, twice as many as the second-most targeted receiver, and grabbed 11 of them for 177 yards.
Junior tight end Jaheim Bell and fifth-year receiver Josh Vann each scored two touchdowns of their own.
The Volunteers kept the game close in the first half. Tennessee scored on all but one of its possessions in the half and cut the game down to one possession early in the third quarter.
From that point, South Carolina’s defense showed up, and on the next three Volunteer possessions, the defense held them scoreless.
“Drop your nuts. That’s all we did,” redshirt junior defensive back Cam Smith said when asked what adjustments the Gamecock defense made.
Early in the fourth, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker fumbled the ball and went down with an injury. The Gamecocks recovered the fumble and sealed the game in the minds of the team.
“When he fumbled, and we got the ball right there, we felt pretty good about our chances of hanging on,” head coach Shane Beamer said.
When time ran out, the stands cleared as thousands of fans stormed the field of Willams-Brice stadium to celebrate with the team. Vann said he dreamt of this moment.
“I told them boys Tuesday night ‘I had a dream we were going to beat these guys,’” Vann said. “I just look back and I'm getting tapped on my head, and I'm just trying to get to the sideline, and everybody's like grabbing me like ‘good game’, but it's an amazing feeling.”
This victory took place on senior night, too. Vann and 20 other players walked off the field for potentially the last time as a player. Vann said he wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way.
“This was our last game in Willy-B. To have the No. 5 team come in here ... what a way to go out,” Vann said. “That way, to beat those guys.”
With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 7-4 on the year and 4-4 in the SEC.
Next time out, the Gamecocks will travel to face rival Clemson on Nov. 26 at noon. The game will be broadcasted on ABC.