Vols Running Game and Defense to Much for Gamecocks

#21/19 UT Rides Running Game, Defense Past Gamecocks, 41-20
Photo by UT Sports

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee defense kept South Carolina in check, and junior Jaylen Wright rushed for 123 yards and was one of three backs with touchdown runs as the No. 21/19 Volunteers earned a 41-20 league victory Saturday night over the Gamecocks.

UT (4-1, 1-1 SEC) donned its Nike “Dark Mode” uniforms with black helmets, black jerseys and black pants in front of a capacity crowd of 101,915 on Champions Weekend, when the 1998 SEC and BCS National Championship team and other UT championship squads and individuals were recognized. The Vols, who are 2-0 in all black and 4-1 all-time (3-0 vs. USC) in black jerseys, have now sold out nine consecutive home games.

Wright paced the SEC’s leading rushing attack, grinding out season highs in yards and attempts (16) while recording his first TD on the ground in 2023. Joining him with scoring runs were Jabari Small and Dylan Sampson, as they enabled the Big Orange to surpass 200 yards rushing for the fourth time in five games with 238 total on a six-yards-per-carry average.

Quarterback Joe Milton III finished 21 of 32 passing for 239 yards, helping the Vols generate 477 yards of total offense to USC’s 333. Wide receiver Squirrel White was Milton III’s most frequent target, as the sophomore hauled in season highs with nine receptions and 104 yards.

The Tennessee defense kept Gamecock quarterback Spencer Rattler in check for most of the evening, limiting him to 169 yards passing with no touchdowns and 19 net rushing yards. The Vols, who entered the game first in the SEC and third in FBS in sacks, tallied six against Rattler along with three hurries and ran their streak of at least one sack in consecutive games to nine in a row. Defensive end James Pearce Jr. tallied two QB takedowns, while defensive tackles Omari Thomas and Kurott Garland and defensive end Joshua Josephs had one apiece. Defensive tackle Omarr Norman-Lott and defensive end Dominic Bailey each tallied a half sack.

Source: UT Sports

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