COLUMBIA, S.C. — Spencer Rattler had the best day of his unpredictable career, throwing for 438 yards and six touchdowns as South Carolina beat No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 on Saturday night, all but eliminating the Volunteers from the playoffs.
Tennessee (9-2, 6-2 Southeastern) might have also lost Heisman Trophy contender Hendon Hooker, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, falling and fumbling without being hit.
Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said he didn’t have an update on Hooker’s status and that the team will evaluate him when it returns to Knoxville.
Even before the injury, the quarterback of the night was Rattler, who went from Heisman hopeful to the bench at Oklahoma in 2021. The junior finally lived up to the potential that fans of South Carolina (7-4, 4-4) hoped for when he arrived.
“That was probably the best I’ve ever felt in a game. I felt unstoppable,” said Rattler, adding he thought it was one of the best wins in college football history.
“This game and the next one could change the narrative of this program forever,” Rattler said.
Rattler came into the night with nine interceptions and eight touchdowns and averaging 198 passing yards per game. There were questions asked about whether the Gamecocks might want to test out the backup.
But the junior was patient in the pocket, dropping passes into the narrowest of windows. He ran when he had to with five carries for 16 yards. And he even caught a pass in the red zone from Dakereon Joyner, who South Carolina typically uses as a running threat under center.
“He was on. You talk about players and being in the zone,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said.
Rattler’s career highs before Saturday were 387 yards against Kansas State for Oklahoma in 2020 and five TDs for the Sooners against Western Carolina in 2021.
The Tennessee defense could do almost nothing to stop the 11th-best offense in the SEC. The Gamecocks gained 606 yards after failing to get over 300 yards in three of their past four games. The 63 points are the most by an unranked team against an AP top-five opponent in the poll era, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Obviously, extremely disappointed with the performance and the outcome of the football game,” Heupel said. “It’s everybody involved, from myself to our assistant coaches to our players, had an opportunity here and didn’t take advantage of it, didn’t play well. Credit to South Carolina. They did play well. Just disappointing that we didn’t perform better.”
Hooker was 25-of-42 for 247 yards and three TDs before his injury. There was no immediate word on the severity of his hurt leg, but he did not return to the game. Joe Milton III took over at QB for the Vols when Hooker went down, turning the ball over on downs after driving into the red zone, then leading a four-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the final two minutes.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
796 goals and counting: The Alex Ovechkin chase to 800 tracker
Ovi is third on the all-time NHL goals list, behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). The next highest active player on the list is Sidney Crosby, at No. 35 with 532 goals. With his 787th goal, Ovechkin set the record for most goals scored with the same franchise. With goal No. 793, he passed Gretzky for the most goals scored on the road for a career (403).
Follow along here as Ovi scores his way up the record books, including a schedule of upcoming games and highlight videos of goals No. 787 and beyond.
The NHL’s top 10 in career goals
1. Wayne Gretzky (894)
2. Gordie Howe (801)
3. Alex Ovechkin (796)
4. Jaromir Jagr (766)
5. Brett Hull (741)
6. Marcel Dionne (731)
7. Phil Esposito (717)
8. Mike Gartner (708)
9. Mark Messier (694)
10. Steve Yzerman (692)
Goal No. 796
At 19:56 of the third period against the Seattle Kraken, Ovechkin fired a shot into an empty net to put him four goals away from 800. The empty-net goal was assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson.
Goals No. 794 and 795
With the Capitals up 2-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Ovechkin was on the ice to close out the game — and scored two empty-net goals! The first was assisted by Anthony Mantha and John Carlson, while the second was assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Conor Sheary.
Alex Ovechkin tallies twice on an empty net and now has 795 career goals.
Goals No. 792 and 793
Ovechkin scored two goals in the first period of the Capitals’ matchup against the Vancouver Canucks — the first unassisted and the second with help from Dylan Strome and Anthony Mantha. Ovechkin has now passed Wayne Gretzky for most goals all time on the road.
Alex Ovechkin slaps in his second goal of the game to put the Capitals up 2-0 against the Canucks.
Alex Ovechkin jumps on the loose puck and notches his 792nd career goal vs. the Canucks.
Goal No. 791
Alex Ovechkin tallies goal for Capitals on the power play
Goal No. 790
Alex Ovechkin wins it for the Capitals with this clutch slap shot in overtime vs. the Flyers.
Goal No. 789
Alex Ovechkin nets goal vs. Blues
Goal No. 788
Alex Ovechkin scores on the power play for Capitals
Goal No. 787
With his goal at 8:55 of the second period — a power-play tally assisted by Trevor van Riemsdyk and Anthony Mantha — Ovechkin broke Gordie Howe’s record for most goals scored by a player with a single franchise:
Alex Ovechkin scores his 787th career goal to break Gordie Howe’s record of most goals with one team.
Note: All games not on ESPN, TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).
Trainer Servis pleads guilty to drugging his horses
NEW YORK — Trainer Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security was the 3-year-old champion in 2019, pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges involving a widespread scheme to drug horses.
The 65-year-old New Jersey-based trainer faces four years in prison when he is sentenced next May in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was the last defendant facing charges in the scheme, and now 23 of the 31 individuals charged have pleaded guilty.
Servis pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs intended for use on horses in his stable.
“Servis’ conduct represents corruption at the highest levels of the racehorse industry,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As a licensed racehorse trainer, Servis was bound to protect the horses under his care and to comply with racing rules designed to ensure the safety and well-being of horses and protect the integrity of the sport.”
Servis’ attorney, Rita Glavin, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Servis was charged in 2020 after a wide-ranging investigation into doping in the horse racing industry. Racing authorities suspended his trainer’s license.
Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference during the running of the race. The colt finished first in the $10 million Saudi Cup shortly before Servis’ arrest in March 2020. Saudi officials later withheld the winner’s share of the purse, citing Servis’ arrest and indictment.
“I don’t take any solace in other peoples misery, actually quite the opposite I feel some empathy for them,” Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion tweeted, “but the reality is that those of us who were beaten by Jason Service’s (sic) horses have little to show for it other than losing money, owners and horses due to his success.”
Another New Jersey-based trainer, Jorge Navarro, is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty a year ago. Eleven of the defendants were trainers and seven were veterinarians.
Servis is the brother of trainer John Servis, who trained Smarty Jones to victories in the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness before the colt lost his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.
‘I’m totally speechless’: Inside the $1.6 billion spending spree that rocked MLB’s winter meetings
SAN DIEGO — The industry’s executives and agents filed out of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in clusters late Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind the madness of an event that had somehow exceeded lofty expectations of extravagance. Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, back for the first time in three years, had seen money flow and precedents buckle — but one final stunner remained. It came Wednesday night, while most of the sport’s movers and shakers sat inside airplanes bound for their respective home cities. The San Diego Padres, a midmarket team that already possessed enviable infield depth and a massive payroll, agreed on an 11-year, $280 million contract with Xander Bogaerts, one of the premier shortstops on the free agent market. A text message from a rival general manager said it all:
Holy s—. I’m totally speechless.
From the start of Monday to the end of Wednesday, 20 major league free agents agreed to contracts totaling nearly $1.6 billion. The vast majority did so while outshooting their projections. And if there was one phrase that could encapsulate the week’s event, it was that one — muttered so often by front-office members, agents, scouts, coaches and media members that it might as well have been part of the branding. The winter meetings, presented by Holy S—.
This offseason, signs of a spending spree had come early. One day after the World Series ended, the New York Mets brought back Edwin Diaz on a five-year, $102 million deal that stood as the richest ever for a reliever. Three days later, Robert Suarez and Rafael Montero — two non-closing relievers with minimal major league dominance in their track records — secured multiyear deals totaling $80.5 million from the Padres and the Houston Astros, respectively. Four days after Thanksgiving, Jose Abreu, who will be 36 next month, received three guaranteed years at an annual rate of nearly $20 million from the Astros. Jacob deGrom, a 34-year-old right-hander who accumulated 156⅓ innings the past two seasons, followed by garnering a five-year, $185 million contract from the Texas Rangers on Dec. 2 — a deal the industry’s executives were still stunned by when they arrived for the winter meetings a couple of nights later.
It was only an appetizer.
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