KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hendon Hooker threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns to lead Tennessee to a 45-20 Southeastern Conference victory over South Carolina Saturday.
The Volunteers (4-2, 2-1) led 35-0 in the second quarter before the Gamecocks (3-3, 0-3) staged a recovery.
Vols' running back Tiyon Evans rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown before leaving midway through the third quarter with an injury.
South Carolina's Kevin Harris scored from a yard out to start the fourth quarter. A missed two-point conversion made the score 38-20. Tennessee's offense generated just 25 offensive yards in the third quarter. Len'Neth Whitehead, replacing the injured Evans at running back, scored Tennessee's last TD from two yards.
Trailing by 31 midway through the third quarter, South Carolina had fourth-and-9 on the Tennessee 44. Punter Kai Kroeger hit wide-open Payton Mangrum with what turned out to be a scoring pass and a 38-14 difference.
A 28-0 first-quarter lead blossomed to 38-7 by halftime. Hooker completed 15 of 20 passes for 217 yards and three scores in the first 30 minutes.
As the Vols were leading 28-0 with just under six minutes left in the first half, Evans found a seam up the middle and won the race to the end zone for a 45-yard TD and 35-0 Tennessee lead. With just over 2 minutes left in the half, South Carolina finally got on the board. Luke Doty's 24-yard pass to Dakereon Joyner was the key play in a 75-yard drive that was culminated by a 6-yard run by Harris.
Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt scored the game's first touchdown when he caught a slant from Hooker from three yards to cap a 66-yard drive. Less than three minutes later, Hooker connected with JaVonta Payton from 39 yards for a 14-0 advantage.
Before the first quarter ran out, Tennessee upped the score to 21-0. South Carolina had the ball inside the Vols' 5-yard line when receiver Jalen Brooks threw a pass that was intercepted in the end zone by Jaylen McCollough. Five plays later Hooker scored on an 11-yard run. With 12 seconds left in the first quarter, the Vols made it 28-0. Four plays after a Gamecocks fumble, Hooker hit Velus Jones for a 21-yard score.
Carolina returns to Williams-Brice Stadium for a 4 p.m. kick against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Oct. 16. The game will be televised on SEC Network.