Vols finish strong taking down rival vandy 45-21
UT finishes 7-5 overall and 4-4 in SEC play in Josh Heupel’s 1st season as Tennessee head coach
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee has dominated the all-time series against Vanderbilt with a 77-32-5 record. The two teams are meeting for the 115th time in a series that dates back to 1892. It’s also Senior Day on Rocky Top as Vol Nation has turned out to send off a group that’s hung in there through thick and thin and looking to finish off their Tennessee career’s in terrific fashion.
The Vols and Commodores have played every year since 1945. UT has won 32 of the last 38 meetings, including the last two after a 42-17 victory in Nashville last season. The Vols’ 77 wins over the Commodores are the second-most in program history over one opponent, behind only Kentucky (82).
Vols win the toss and defer to the 2nd half.
After a touchback on the kickoff the Commodores pick up a first down on 3rd and 7 on a 14 yard pass from Mike Wright to Chris Pierce Jr. Vandy would pick up a first down on another pass play, but then came a big play for the Tennessee defense. Pressure from Jeremy Banks and senior Theo Jackson steps in front of a Mike Wright pass and returns it 55 yards for a UT touchdown. The pick-6 and PAT make it 7-0 Vols at the 12:20 mark of the 1st quarter.
Vandy starts its second drive from its own 25 yard line. Two rushing plays nets -1 yard. On 3rd and 11, Mike Wright’s pass is almost intercepted again. Commodores go three and out and are forced to punt.
Vols start their first offensive possession fromthe Vandy 21 yard line after a 50 yard return by Velus Jones. On 4th and 2 at the Vanderbilt 13, the Vols decide to go, rushing Jabari Small up the middle. The sophomre gains only one yard and is stopped shot of the line to gain. Ball goes over on downs to Vandebilt.
Commodores third drive starts at their own 12 yard line. Vanderbilt would move the ball into UT territory and on 3rd and 8 from the Vols 42, Wright’s pass is incomplete forcing a Vanderbilt punt.
Vols 2nd offensive possession would start from their own 14 yard line. On 3rd and 2 at the 22, Jabari Small rips off a 14 yard run to the 36 for a Tennessee first down. A quick out pass to Cedric Tillman nets UT 14 yards and another first down into Vandy territory. An offsides penalty moves ut back to its own 49 and a 1st and 15. On 3rd and 13 at the Vandy 49, Hendon Hooker’s pass over the middle to Jacob Warren is incomplete forcing a 4th down and Tennessee’s first punt of the afternoon. A beautiful 46 yard punt by Paxton Brooks would be downed at the three yard line leaving Vandy with very poor field position.
On 3rd and 2 at the 11, Vandy runs up the middle, but is stopped short of the line to gain. The first quarter comes to an end with Vandy facing a 4th and 1 at their own 12 yard line.
Head coach Clark Lea decides to go for it and the Commodres pick up the first on a three yard run to the 15. Then on 3rd and 8 at the 17, quarterback Mike Wright is flushed out the pocket and the Vols hold. Vandy punts back to Tennessee.
A Hendon Hooker run and a pair of Jaylen Wright rushes has moved the ball down to the Vnady 32. On 3rd and 3 at the 25, Hooker scrambles and is just short of the first, which jabari Small picks up on 4th and one at the Vanderbilt 20 yard line. A spectacular run by Hooker takes the ball down to the Vandy 6 yard line. On 2nd and goal at the 6, Small takes the hand-off from Hooker and weaves his way through the middle of the line and into the end zone for Tennessee’s first offensive points of the game. PAT makes it 14-0 Tennessee with 9:05 remaining in the first half.
UT’s Matt Butler would get dinged up on this Vandy offensive series and on 3rd and 5 at the 30, Wright is forced out of the pocket and his pass sails high and out of bounds forcing yet another Vanderbilt punt.
After a short punt the UT offense is back in business starting at its own 47 yard line. The Vols would take advantage of the great field position, but need a 4th and two conversion to get going. UT picks up the first on another nifty run by Hooker. Then Small rips off a 14 yard run down to the Vandy 23. Then faced with a 3rd and 11 at the 24, Hooker hits a wide open Cedric Tillman on a slant pattern over the middle. Tillman then turns it back outside and gets into the end zone for the touchdown. That’s six consecutive games with a TD for Tillman as the Vols increase their lead to 21-0 with 4:22 to go in the half.
Jaylen McCoullough with 2nd career sack, loss of 10 forcing a 3rd and 17 at the Vandy 18. The pass completion on third down loses three yards forcing another Vandy punt.
Vols start their next possession and their own 41 yard line. Hooker’s first down pass was incomplete, but after the play a personal foul on Vandy’s Anfernee Orji and the Vols are back in business. Anothfor a 31 yard er big jabari Small run takes UT down to the 16 yard line. Then faced with 3rd and 8 at the 14, Hooker’s pass into the end zone is incomplete. There was contact, but the pass was tipped so no call for interference.
Well that was quick! A 29 yard Hendon Hooker run followed by a 46 yard pass play from Hooker to Tillman gets that Vandy TD back as the Vols regain their 24 point lead now up 31-7 early in the 3rd quarter.
Vandy with a 3rd and 3 at the Vols 31. Commodores run play picks up the first, but vandy is called for an illegal shift making it 3rd and 8 at the Vols 37. The Commodores convert on that and then get a 13 yard TD run from RB Rocko Griffin. The 2-point try is no good making the score 31-13 Tennessee with 6:28 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
After the Vanderbilt kickoff goes out of bounds, the Vols start their next possession at their own 35 yard line. A pass to Tillman and rush by Small gets Tennessee to the Vandy 34. Then a 23 yard catch and run by senior TE Princeton Fant takes the ball down to the 11-yard line. From their it’s Jabari Small running it in for the TD. Vols go 5 plays in 65 yards in 1:16 to increase their lead to 38-13. Small now has 14 carries for 91 yards and two scores. Hooker has passed for 141 yards and rushed for 75 in the game.
Vandy 3rd and 4 at their 41, QB Wright under pressure scrambles short of the first down, but Jeremy Banks is called for a late hit out of bounds by jeremy Banks giving Vandy new life. 3rd and 9 at the Vol 42, pass complete but short of the first to end the 3rd quarter.
Vandy starts the final period by going for it on 4th and 1 at the UT 34, and the Commodores convert on a short Rocko Griffin run. Vols tighten up and Vandy is faced with a 3rd and 10 at the UT 33, short pass completion sets up a 4th and 5 at the 28 and once again Vandy converts this time on a Wright to Sheppard pass. Vandy geta first and 10 at the 15. A tackle for loss makes it 2nd and 12 at the 17. A short pass completion sets up a 3rd and 1 at the 6. Vorun to the 2. ls hold Rocko Griffin for no gain setting up another 4th and 1 and again the Dores convert on a 4 yard Griffin run to the 2. A false start penalty makes it first and goal at the 7. Then on 2nd and goal at the 4, QB Mike Wright fakes the hand off up the middle and runs towards the corner for a TD. Vandy goes for and gets the 2-point cnversion this time on a pass from Wright to Chris Pierce Jr. A 19 play 75 yard drive and the Commodores now trail Tennessee 38-21.
After Byron Young’s sack caused a Vanderbilt turnover on downs at the VU16, Wright broke through with a 10-yard touchdown run to give UT its sixth 40-point performance of the season. McGrath knocked through his sixth PAT of the night to cement the game’s final score, 45-21 in favor of the Big Orange. Tennessee will now await its bowl destination after reaching postseason eligibility with a 7-5 regular-season record in the first season under head coach Josh Heupel. Bowl announcements are set for Sunday, Dec. 5, and ticket information will be available at AllVols.com.
Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.