Rocky ‘Cocks top Tennessee

Freshman running back Brandon Wilds did his best Marcus Lattimore impression as No. 14 South Carolina overcame a sluggish start to earn a rare 14-3 victory at Tennessee.

The Gamecocks (7-1, 5-1 SEC) stayed atop the East Division with Georgia, which beat Florida 24-20 on Saturday, although South Carolina holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bulldogs.

The Volunteers (3-5, 0-5), who had won 14 of the previous 15 home meetings with South Carolina, lost their first five conference games for the second straight season.

Wilds, filling in for Lattimore who was lost for the season to a torn ACL two weeks ago, rushed for 137 yards on 28 carries in his first start. He had only 13 carries for 75 yards before Saturday.

Tennessee seemed poised to regain the lead when Prentiss Waggner returned an interception to the South Carolina 2, but D.J. Swearinger picked off a Justin Worley pass two plays later.

South Carolina responded with a 20-play, 98-yard drive that chewed 11:35 off the clock – the longest drive by plays and time in Steve Spurrier’s tenure with the Gamecocks – and ended with Connor Shaw’s 5-yard touchdown run for a 14-3 lead.

Shaw became the third South Carolina quarterback in the past 30 years to win his first four starts, joining Steve Taneyhill (1992) and Chris Smelley (2007). The sophomore threw a touchdown pass and added 64 yards and a score on the ground.

Worley, a freshman from Rock Hill, S.C., struggled in his first start and was replaced by senior Matt Simms in the fourth quarter.

South Carolina’s Ace Sanders muffed a punt to set up Michael Palardy’s 22-yard field goal. The Gamecocks have allowed opponents to score first in 11 consecutive games but are 8-3 during that stretch.

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