LIVE THREAD: Vols win 56-0 over Vanderbilt
Quarterback Joe Milton replaces the injured Hendon Hooker in Tennessee’s regular season finale
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - No. 10 Tennessee looks to conclude its regular season on a high note as it takes on in-state rival Vanderbilt at FirstBank Stadium tonight.
The Vols looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss on the road at South Carolina, a game in which they lost their quarterback and team leader Hendon Hooker to injury.
Redshirt senior Joe Milton III is set to take over as the starting quarterback for the Volunteers. Milton opened the 2021 season as UT’s starting quarterback before sustaining an injury in the second game of the season.
The Vanderbilt game will mark his third start as a Vol and the eighth of his collegiate career after starting five games at Michigan from 2018-2020.
Didn’t take long for Milton and the UT offense to assert itself. With no Cedric Tillman in the game, it’s a quick first down pass to Ramel Keyton. Then big Joe goes deep, 61 yards to Jalin Hyatt. From their it’s Jabari Small time as he takes it in from three yards out. PAT is good as UT takes a 7-0 lead much to the delight of the partisan Tennessee crown and their singing of Rocky Top!
After a fumbles snap, Vandy faced a third and 22 at their 48, quarterback Mike Wright’s pass was incomplete and the Commodores were forced to punt on their first possession.
Tennessee second possession amounts to very little, but after UT’s first punt of the night the Commodores were stuffed thanks in large part to Wesley Walker who tackled the Vandy running back behind the line scrimmage, darting through to make a big hit. The red-shirt junior safety almost intercepted the third down pass forcing a Vanderbilt punt.
Aided by a Vandy penalty for an illegal block, the UT offense would march down the field picking up a big third down on a 23 yard pass from Milton to Ramel Keyton. Then on 4th and goal at the one and thanks to second effort, Princeton Fant fights his way into the end zone. PAT again is good as the Vols extend their lead to 14-0 with 1:57 remaining in the 1st quarter.
A nice kick return would set the Commodores up at their 36 yard line to start drive number three.
Vandy would start the second quarter with the ball at the midfield stripe. 3rd and 6 at the UT 19 and quarterback Mike Wright is sacked again by Tennessee’s Roman Harrison forcing a Vandy FG attempt. Joseph Bulovas’ 39 yard try was wide left and the Vols maintain their 14-0 lead with 10:48 remaining in the 2nd.
Vols take over at their own 21 and quick out to Jalin Hyatt nets UT six yards. Using up tempo, Jalen Wright carries on the next play for a first down. Later it was 3rd and 5 at the 40, but Milton would overthrow a streaking Ramel Keyton down the UT sideline. Vols forced to punt again. Vandy takes over at their own 25.
Vols strike on special teams! Dee Williams almost broke one at LSU, well he goes all the way on a punt return, 73 yards for the score. Squirrel White helped break him free as the Vols take a 21-0 lead with 8:09 left in the half. Tennessee’s first punt return for a touchdown since October of 2019.
Late in the first half, the Commodores would mount a drive, trying to steal away some of the momentum that’s belonged to Tennessee throughout much of the half. The drive would stall in UT territory. On third and 18 at the Vols 40 Vandy.
After a nice kickoff return to start the 2nd half, the Vols would stuff the Commodores on 4th and 2 at their own 49. Tennessee takes over on downs.
And on 2nd and 12 at their own 48, the give goes to Jabari Small up the middle. He makes a couple players miss and is off to the races. The 52 yard jaunt and subsequent PAT give Tennessee a commanding 28-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter.
Vandy tries the fake punt, Matt Hayball runs for 21 yds to the 50 yard line, but Matt Hayball fumbles. Fumble forced by Nick Humphrey, and recovered by the Vols.
A couple plays later it’s another UT back off to the races. This time Jalen Wright breaks free and he heads down the UT sideline 50 yards for another Tennessee touchdown. Strike up the band and the sounds of Rocky Top as the Vols increase their lead to 35-0 over the Commodores.
On it’s next drive of the third quarter the Vols go 49 yards in 7 plays capped off by a 7 yard TD pass from Joe Milton to Brentwood native Walker Merrill. Vols increase their lead to 42-0.
The Vols now with 349 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, the defense, coming off a dismal performance at South Carolina is tossing a shutout holding Vandy to just 46 yards passing so far.
After a turnover on downs by Vanderbilt, Tennessee wastes no time getting back to the end zone.
Jaylen Wright breaks free for an 83-yard sprint to the house to put the Vols up 49-0.
Not much later it’s Dylan Sampson who takes off for an 83-yard touchdown run to put the Volunteers up 56-0
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