Live Thread: Vols fall to No. 23 Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium
Tennessee drops its fifth consecutive game, 30-17.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Tennessee Volunteers, coming off a 4-game losing streak are taking on the No. 23 Auburn Tigers at Jordan- Hare Stadium Saturday night.
Jarrett Guarantano got his 32nd nod at starting quarterback. The Vols elected to keep things on the ground with an Eric Gray inside run on the first play. Tennessee is putting an emphasis on no-huddle, up-tempo offense on its first drive.
Guarantano was able to find a few passing targets, moving the ball down inside the Auburn 30 yard line, but Guarantano was sacked on 3rd and 10 to force a 50 yard field goal attempt by Brent Cimaglia that sailed wide left.
The Auburn offense took over at their own 33 yard line and picked up a quick first down on their first play - a Tank Bigsby run around the right side for 12 yards. Bigsby was seen being taken into the sideline medical tent with an apparent left hip injury shortly after. UT’s Trevon Flowers broke up a 3rd down pass to force an Auburn punt.
The Tennessee offensive line allowed its second sack of the game on the second play of the Vols second drive. Set up with a 3rd and 15, Eric Gray found a hole on a draw play that went for 33 yards to midfield. Guarantano went right back to Gray the following play on a pass across the middle for a 16 yard pickup.
The Vols converted another 3rd down on a pass across the middle to freshman Jalin Hyatt. Set up inside the 10, Jim Chaney called a quarterback draw up the middle for Guarantano, who followed a great block by Trey Smith to find the end zone and take a 7-0 lead.
Auburn started moving the ball with chunk plays on its second drive. With plays of 14, 5, 17, 11, 13 and 5 yards, Auburn quickly moved into UT territory, but Bryce Thompson came up with an interception on a misplaced Bo Nix ball in the end zone to set up the Vols offense on the 20 yard line.
Guarantano has seemed more poised in the pocket during the first quarter. He hasn’t forced any balls and has checked down to running backs when needed, including one screen to Eric Gray on the left side of the field that picked up 25 yards on third down. The Vols start the 2nd quarter with the ball in Auburn territory.
Auburn was able to sniff out a 3rd down pass to Princeton Fant to force a Tennessee field goal attempt from 47 yards out. Cimaglia put it through the uprights to extend Tennessee’s lead, 10-0.
With Tank Bigsby still sidelined, Auburn began to rely heavily on Shaun Shivers during its third offensive series. The junior was called on three straight times, picking up gains of seven, five and 13 yards. Tennessee sophomore Jaylen McCollough was caught in the wrong coverage on the next play - a Bo Nix pass to Anthony Schwartz for a 54 yard touchdown down the left seam to pull the Tigers back within a field goal, 10-7.
Guarantano’s all white jersey has some visible grass stains on it after the Vols fourth drive. The senior quarterback was pressured and hit on consecutive plays, as Auburn forced Tennessee to punt for the first time with 11:11 to play in the half.
The Tigers put together a long, 13 play drive that stalled out inside the Tennessee 10. Alontae Taylor made a good open field tackle near the far sideline to force a field goal attempt that tied the game at 10.
Neither team was able to produce much offense before the half and the game remains tied at 10.
Auburn will be without running back Tank Bigsby for the remainder of the game after suffering an apparent hip injury early in the first quarter.
Kivon Bennett helped stop Auburn’s drive by sacking Bo Nix on 2nd down deep in Tennessee territory. The loss of yardage forced a 3rd and 20 tunnel screen that nearly converted, but Auburn settled for a 27 yard field goal to take its first lead of the game with 7:25 to play in the third quarter. Auburn’s drive out of the locker room went 65 yards in 15 plays and took 7:25 off the clock.
Tennessee’s offense responded by keeping it on the ground for five straight plays - all rushes by Eric Gray for a total of 49 yards. After a failed shot at the end zone to Josh Palmer, UT kept the ball on the ground for another three rushes by Ty Chandler. Just when it looked like Tennessee was moving the ball, Jarrett Guarantano tried to force a ball to Josh Palmer in the back of the end zone, but was intercepted at the goal line by Smoke Monday and returned 100 yards for an Auburn touchdown.
Tennessee was able to move the ball down the field after the pick six thanks to two Auburn personal fouls and a healthy dose of Eric Gray and Ty Chandler. Forced to throw on 3rd and 5 from the Auburn 15 yard line, Guarantano couldn’t find an open receiver and was sacked for a loss of five yards. Brent Cimaglia missed his second field goal attempt of the game, as his 37 yard kick sailed wide right.
Auburn took over from its own 20 yard line and put together a long, balanced drive of six rushes and six passes that was capped off with a DJ Williams 9 yard rush into the end zone to extend the Tigers lead, 27-10.
Harrison Bailey replaced Jarrett Guarantano after receiving the ensuing kickoff with a little more than seven minutes left in the game. The Marietta native’s first pass attempt was complete to fellow freshman Jalin Hyatt for a 17 yard gain. Two of Tennessee’s five first downs on the drive came from penalties. Eric Gray punched in a rushing score to pull the Vols within 10 points with 4:07 to play in the game.
Tennessee’s onside kick failed and Auburn’s offense took over at the UT 44 yard line. The Tigers kept it on the ground to run out the clock and were able to sneak far enough into UT territory to convert a 50 yard field goal that extended the Auburn lead 30-17.
Bailey remained in the game for Tennessee’s final drive, which went 54 yards in eight plays.
Tennessee drops its fifth consecutive game, 30-17.
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