Hooker throws three TDs, leads Tennessee past South Carolina

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Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) runs for yardage as he’s chased by South Carolina defensive end Jordan Burch (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 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.

The Gamecocks may have their best chance to break into the win column in the SEC when they entertain Vanderbilt next Saturday.

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