"We played like the game was against an 0-8 team sandwiched between Alabama and Notre Dame," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said after the Vols beat South Carolina 30-7 Saturday.
Jamal Lewis led the Vols (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) with 146 yards rushing, including a 70-yard touchdown.
When the Gamecocks (0-9, 0-7) stacked the line to control Lewis, Tennessee hurt them with two short screen passes. The first went from Tee Martin to Onterrio Smith, who took it 24 yards for a touchdown. The second, to Donte' Stallworth, covered 71 yards and set up the Vols' final score.
The Vols drove 63 yards for a touchdown with the opening possession and were never threatened by the punchless Gamecocks. South Carolina's only points came on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Mikal Goodman to Ben Fleming with 36 seconds left in the game.
"I never thought it was going to be easy," Fulmer said. "Sometimes that's one of your worst nightmares, you go get a touchdown right off the bat and everybody thinks it's going to be easy."
The big plays accounted for much of the Vols' offense in an uneven performance. Tennessee lost two fumbles, threw an interception and was penalized nine times.
"It was frustrating with our execution," said Martin, who set several records against the Gamecocks last season when he completed 23 straight passes.
On Saturday, Martin was 11-of-23 for 216 yards despite missing his favorite target, Cedrick Wilson, for most of the game. Wilson was injured on the first play of the Vols' second possession and did not return.
"We couldn't get any rhythm going, but wmade some big plays and put some points on the board," Martin said. "The screen play worked."
Lewis moved the ball from the Tennessee 47 to the South Carolina 24 on five consecutive runs to open the game before Martin hit Smith with the scoring pass to make it 7-0.
Lewis broke loose and raced 70 yards early in the second quarter for the longest run of his career. The score made it 14-0 and gave Lewis his 13th 100-yard game, tying Jay Graham's school record. The junior from Atlanta hurt his shoulder with five minutes left in the third quarter and did not return. His status, as well as that of Wilson, for next weekend's game against Notre Dame was uncertain.
"That's the most push I've seen all year from the offensive line," Lewis said of his long TD run. "The fullback got the linebacker and I just saw daylight and ran."
Two field goals by Alex Walls put the Vols ahead 20-0 at the half and another field goal in the third quarter made it 23-0. Tennessee closed its scoring with Crosby's short run after the long pass to Stallworth.
South Carolina, which came into the game with the least productive offense among the 114 Division I-A teams at 223 yards a game, gained 225 against Tennessee. All but 67 yards came in the second half.
The Gamecocks managed 11 first downs and rushed for 103 yards, led by reserve quarterback Carlos Spikes with 29. Spikes and Goodman combined to complete 8 of 17 passes for 122 yards.
Tennessee gained 433 yards against a South Carolina defense that came into the game ranked ninth in the nation, yielding 281 yards a game.
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