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Vols run past Tigers in home opener, 35-12

Tennessee rushes for 232 yards improving to 2-0 on the season
Scores one of his two touchdowns against Missouri
Scores one of his two touchdowns against Missouri(UT Athletics)
Published: Oct. 3, 2020 at 12:15 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - We’re underway at Neyland Stadium as the Vols take on the Missouri Tigers in their 2020 home opener and the second of ten straight SEC games this season.

The Vols struggled on third down conversions at South Carolina going 1-12. UT’s struggles on 3rd down would continue on Tennessee’s opening drive going 0-2, but the Vols would convert two 4th down chances to keep their opening drive alive.

It’s a drive which included a long pass from Jarrett Guarantano to freshman receiver Jalin Hyatt. That would help set up the game’s first score as senior RB Ty Chandler takes it in from three yards out.

Tennessee completes a 75 yard game opening drive with a touchdown and jumps out to a 7-0 lead at Neyland Stadium.

Bryce Thompson with a tackle of quarterback Shawn Robinson for a loss on 3rd and 9 forcing a Missouri punt.

Vols take over on their 21 and behind an offensive line that included Cade mays starting at right tackle today, began to move down the field. Eric Gray with a couple nice runs and Guarantano connecting on the deep ball again, 33 yards to Josh Palmer. The Vols' drive; however, would stall and Brent Cimaglia was wide left on a 39 yard FG attempt as the score remains 7-0 with a little over 4 minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Tennessee defense was stout again forcing a three and out for Missouri, which would punt on 4th and 15. Eric Gray would make the fair catch at the UT 35 yard line which is where Tennessee’s third drive will start from. The Vols would move the chains and convert on 4th down for a third time in the first quarter, would would come to an end on that play with the Vols still leading, 7-0.

The Vols would waist no time completing a 65 yard drive with a nifty 20 yard TD run by Eric Gray. Tennessee leads Mizzou 14-0 at Neyland stadium. The Vols by the way with 187 total yards of offense, 84 of those on the ground. A vast contrast from last week where Tennessee could manage only 10 first half rushing yards.

The Tigers of first year head coach Eli Drinkwitz would answer with their first scoring drive of the day. Led by the running of senior back Larry Roundtree, Mizzou would would move deep into UT territory, but had to settle for a 27 yard Harrison Mevis FG. Roundtree now has 49 yards on 7 carries. 14-3 Vols in the second.

6-foot-215lb. freshman Jabari Small looked good on a 15 yard run, but UT’s latest drive stalls and the Vols are forced to punt on 4th and 5. Mizzou starts it’s latest drive at their own 16 yard line. With Connor Bazelak in at QB, the Tigers would mount another drive, but is stalls when SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Deondre Johnson picks up a sack on third and long. Harrison Mevis comes in and connects on a 50 yard FG, his second of the half cutting the UT lead to 14-6.

The Vols respond with an 8 play 75 yard drive which included some solid running and then a short 13 yard pass play from Guarantano to Eric Gray, who high steps into the end zone for his second TD of the day. Vols take a 21-6 lead into the locker room at Neyland Stadium.

The Tigers would receive the second half kickoff but the Vol defense was up to the task forcing a punt. Tennessee would then mount a 16 play 92 yard drive and cap it off with a three yard Jarrett Guarantano QB run, his second in as many games. Tennessee would continue it’s excellent work rushing the football. Eric Gray would pick up 29 more yards on the drive including a nice run to get the Vols in position for that Gurantano TD. Extra Point is good as Tennessee extends it’s lead to 28-6 in the 3rd quarter.

The Tigers would answer with a drive which included two 4th down conversions. One one coming on a long pass and the second on a one yard TD run by Larry Roundtree. Mizzou’s attempt at a two point conversion is no good. Tennessee leads Missouri 28-12 late in the 3rd quarter.

The announced crowd inside Neyland Stadium for today’s home opener with the Tigers is 21,559. The Vols take that 16 point lead into the 4th quarter.

The start of which would see the Tigers march back into Tennessee territory, but Nashville native Theo Jackson would put an end to that with his first career interception and a nice return setting the Vols up with great field position. On the first play of the drive, Jarrett Guarantano would connect with grad transfer Velus Jones inside the Missouri 30 yard line. The Vols would eventually punch it in a Guarantano sneak from a yard out on 4th and goal, his second TD of the day. Vols lead Mizzou 35-12 with 7:44 to go in the game.

After starting 1-4 last season, the Vols are off to a 2-0 start this year, their first since 2016, following today’s 35-12 win over Missouri. UT with over 400 yards offense, 236 of those yards on the ground. Tennessee takes an 8 game win streak now into Athens next week to face the Georgia Bulldogs.

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