Vols race past Bowling Green in opener, 38-6

Tennessee rushes for 326 yards while defense shuts down Falcons in the 2nd half
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 3, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Another new beginning for Tennessee football as the Vols welcome in Bowling Green to open the 2021 season. They’ll do so with a new coach and several new players, but one of them won’t be on the defensive side of the ball.

Josh Heupel discusses his first win as UT head coach.

Live with Coach Heupel

Heupel discusses his first win as UT head coach.

Posted by WVLT on Thursday, September 2, 2021

Rick Russo went live in the press box before the game kicked off.

Arguably Tennessee’s best defensive player in fall camp, sources tell Volquest that Byron Young is not eligible due to a two game stint at a prep school that folded two games into a 2017 season.

By NCAA rule, his eligibility began by playing those two games, but because the prep school folded, Young won’t lose that entire season.

First-year head coach Josh Heupel named Michigan transfer Joe Milton the team’s starting quarterback Monday afternoon. Milton joined the roster in June after playing in all six of the Wolverines games a season ago. He accounted for 1,350 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns in his two seasons.


Vols won the coin toss and deferred to the 2nd half. Tennessee forced a three and out and a Falcons punt on their first series.

The Vols and new quarterback Joe Milton would take over and start their first possession of the season on their own 34 yard line. Jabari Small would start at RB for UT and gain a yard. Right back on the ball for a quick out to the 39. Tennessee would pick up the first down on a pass to Jaylin Hyatt.

The Vols would work their way into Bowling Green territory on the next play. Milton would then hit Javonta Payton for 10 yards to the Falcons 27. Milton would keep on the next play for a 4-yard gain. A defensive holding penalty would take the ball down to the Bowling Green 13.

Tennessee doing a a good job mixing the pass and run, in fact it would be the new QB, Milton taking it in from 4 yards out for his first TD as a Vol and the first touchdown of the 2021 season. Milton 4-5 passing for 26 yards and two rushes for 14 yards on the opening drive.

Vols would force another three and out on the Falcons 2nd possession and would start their 2nd drive of the game from their own 33 yard line. We got a glimpse of Milton’s strong arm throwing the ball 50 yards to the endzone but overthrowing receiver cedric Tillman.

Milton would complete his next two passes including a 30 yarder to Hyatt down to the Bowling Green 8 yard line. Running Back jabari Small would then take it in for his first TD of the season. Vols Lead the Falcons 14-0 with 6:52 left in the first quarter. Tennessee scoring drive, 8-plays, 67 yards in 2:01. Yeah, that up temp thing is workign so far!. An intention grounding call on the next play would

On their third possession, Bowling Green would pick up its first 1st down of the game on a quick slant pattern, but an intentional grounding call on QB Matt McDonals would leave Bowling Green with a 2nd and 16. Third down was no better for the falcons, who were forced to punt for a third time in the quarter.

A 49 yard punt and six yard return by Theo jackson, but a block in the back by would set the Vols back 10 yards to their own 25, which is where drive number three would start for Joe Milton and Company.

Vols back on the move, Tiyon Evans in at running back for Tennessee, which picks up a first down to the 38 yard line. Center Cooper Mays was injured on the play and assisted off the field.

Milton would then connect again with Jalin Hyatt for a 19 yard completion into Falcons territory. A holding penalty on the next play would set the Vols back to the 50 yard line. A loss of four would make it 2nd and 24, a short gain would leave ut with a 3rd and 16, but Milton would be sacked on the play leaving the Vols with a 4th and 19 and their first punt of the game. paxton Brooks would boomb it with Bowling Green calling for a fair catch on their own 6 yard line.

After a gain of 7 on a short pass the quarter would end with Tennessee on top 14-0.


Great to see legends Lester McClain and Condredge Hollway honored in between quarters.

On a 3rd down tipped pass, Bowling Green’s Jamal Johnson would catch it and run for 31 yards into Tennessee territory. Thanks to the passing of Matt McDonald the Falcons would get down to the Vols 31 where on 3rd and 10, another completion gains the visitors six more yards, but short of the first down. On 4th and 4, Bowling Green goes for the FG and Nate Needham knocks it in from 42 yards. 14-3 Vols with 9:54 to go in the half.

Next possession for the Vols, UT’s up tempo offense stalls again. A dropped pass by Hyatt, no gain on 2nd down and a five yard scramble by Milton would leave Tennessee with a 4th and 5 and their 2nd punt of the game, this time 64 yards from Brooks for the tocuchback as Bowling Green starts from it’s own 20.

Matt McDonals, who’s dad wona national title at USC in 1978 continues to play well connecting on a 44 yard pass to #18 Austin Osborne. Next, an 11 yard gain would bring Bowling Green into UT territory at the 40 yard line.

Bowling Green looking like the aggressor now picking up another first down with a three yard run to the Vols 30. Falcons picking up yards in big chunks, an 8 yard pass to Osborne gets them downto the 22, followed by another first down run to the Vols 19.

The Vol defense would then stiffen up forcing a 3rd and 11. A false start would make it 3rd and 16. After taking their 2nd time out of the half the Falcons would have 3rd and 16. And on that third down play UT would bring the heat with Tyler baron sacking McDonals. That would force a 4th and 23 setting up a 50 yard FG try. Needham’s previous long was 43 yards, but he is true to bring the Falcons within 8 points at 14-6 with 1:16 left in the half.

After a good kick return out to the 42 yard line, Tennessee’s defense stalls, unable to pick up a first down forcing a 4th and 7 at their own 45 yard line. The Vols call a time out with :01 left. Tennessee tries for the Hail Mary, pressure forces Milton out of the pocket and his pass is incomplete, but an illegal substitution call on the defense gives UT one more shot. This time the pass reaches the endzone, but falls incomplete as Tennessee takes a 14-6 lead into the locker room. Tennessee with just 39 total yards in its last three possessions, just eight in the 2nd quarter.


Tennessee would come out firing in the 2nd half, Jabari Small with with a nice 17 yard run into Falcons territory setting up a 1st and 10 at the Bowling Green 47. Small would juke his way to the Falcons 33 on 3rd and 3. Tiyon Evans would then rip off runs of 21 and 11 yards to the Bowling Green one, where Joe Milton would walk in for Tennessee’s third TD of the night. 21-6 Vols with 12:53 to go in the 3rd quarter.

Bowling Green would start it’s first drive of the half from its own 10 yard line after a holding penalty on the kickoff. The Falcons would go nowhere on their first possession of the 2nd half, but Tennessee’s offense would also stall on it’s 2nd possession of the half forcing a Vols punt.

After another Falcons punt the Vols would regain possession and begin to move again on the ground. A pass interference penalty on a deep pass to Cedric Tillman would move the ball to the Bowling Green 19 and from there it was Tiyon Evans flashing some nice moves on his way to the end zone and another Vols touchdown. PAT made it 28-6 Tennessee with 7:51 to go in the 3rd quarter.

On its next possession, Bowling Green would begin to move the ball once again and once again into Tennessee territory. On 4th and two and the UT 42, the falcons would go for it. McDonald’s pass was incomplete, but Aaron Beasley was called for pass interference giving the Falcons a first down at the Vols 27. The play was then reviewed and ruled an interception after the ball was tipped. Tennessee takes over on downs.

Tennessee starts its drive at the 43 and gets a 13 yard run right off the bat by QB Joe Milton. On the next set of downs, Tennessee found itself on a 4th and two at the Bowling Green 36. jabari Small could only gain a yard as the ball goes back over on downs to the Falcons.

After gaining one first down, the Falcons offense would stall forcing a punt back to Tennessee with 1:10 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Back to the ground for Tennessee with nice gains by Small and Milton on consecutive plays. The 3rd quarter comes to an end with the first rush of the game by Freshman Jaylen Wright. We head to the 4th with Tennessee leading 28-6. The Vols with 301 yards of offense through three quarters Tiyon Evans leads UT with 83 yards, Small has 70 and Joe Milton has 48 yards rushing.


A fumble by Joe Milton is recovered by Bowling Green at the UT 42. Falcons take over to start the 4th quarter.

On 3rd and three from the Vols 35 QB McDonald keeps it and is stopped just short. Falcons go for it on 4th and 1 from the 33, McDonald is forced out of the pocket, he completes his pass, but for no gain as UT takes over on downs. Nice stand by the Vol D after the Milton fumble.

The Vols would continue their ground assault but have the drive stalled following consecutive Jerome carvin holding penalties. Carvin, by the way now playing center with Cooper Mays out. Then it was Jalin Hyatt dropping his second pass of the game on a beautifully thrown ball by Milton. Tennessee settles for a 43 yard Chase MCGrath FG, his first as a Vol. UT now leads Bowling Green 31-6.

Tennessee would add one more score on Joe Milton’s first TD pass as a Vol, a 40 yarder to Cedric Tillman. Milton finishes with 140 yards passing completing 11 of 25 passes, but it was the ground game which got things done. 326 rushing yards for Tennessee including 116 each for Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small.


UT comes out on top as Josh Heupel and Joe Milton make their debut to defeat Bowling Green, 38-6.

Here’s a look at some of the action from the night:

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