Unranked Tennessee earned its first SEC victory in thrilling fashion at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon, kicking a field goal on the game's final play to upset No. 11 South Carolina 23-21.
With his team down one point and in its own territory with just over two minutes remaining, wide receiver Marquez North provided some unbelievable theatrics in Knoxville, pulling down a one-handed, catch-of-the-year candidate to extend the drive and put the Volunteers in field-goal position.
Several plays later, Michael Palardy knocked in the chip shot as the clock expired, and the frenzied home crowd rushed the field.
After an uneventful first quarter, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw connected with Damiere Byrd for a 76-yard score on the first play of the second quarter to put the Gamecocks ahead 7-3:
Unfortunately for Steve Spurrier's squad, that play would account for a large chunk of Shaw's passing yards on the day—he finished 7-of-21 for 161 yards—as the Gamecocks struggled to do much of anything through the air.
The Volunteers would score on their next two drives, going 75 and 61 yards, respectively. This six-yard connection from between Justin Worley and Alton Howard put Tennessee ahead 10-7:
The Vols took a 17-7 lead into the locker room, and an upset looked within reach.
South Carolina came out strong in the second half, however, buckling down on defense and using a heavy dose of the run game to chip away at the deficit.
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, in particular, was all over the place:
Jadeveon Clowney has tied a career-high with 7 tackles today.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 19, 2013
On the offensive side of the ball, Shaw and running back Mike Davis both carved up big chunks of yardage on the ground and each scored a touchdown, putting the Gamecocks ahead, 21-17, late in the third quarter.
Shaw ended the night with 78 yards and a score on the ground, while Davis, who has been so integral to the team's success this season, was once again dominant, carving up 137 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Tennessee added a field goal early in the quarter to cut the lead to one point, but it appeared South Carolina was going to hold strong, forcing the Volunteers to punt twice within the final six minutes of the game.
Nevertheless, after Shaw was forced from the game late with a left knee strain, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today, and backup Dylan Thompson wasn't able to sustain a drive, the Volunteers took over with just over three minutes left.
107.5's The Game Michael Haney has news on Shaw from Spurrier:
Spurrier said Connor Shaw has a sprained knee. "How serious, they'll have to wait and evaluate."— Michael Haney (@Haney1075) October 19, 2013
The rest—North's catch, which will go down in Tennessee lore, and Palardy's field goal—is history.
South Carolina's task of winning the SEC East just got exponentially more difficult, while Butch Jones has his first conference win in spectacular, scintillating fashion.