By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
The Volunteers' rushing attack proved to be too much for the Tigers on Saturday, as a steady dose of Eric Gray and Ty Chandler wore down Missouri's defense, allowing the Tennessee to pull away and secure victory. With the win, the Vols improve to 2-0 on the season.
Missouri won the toss and deferred to the Vols. It didn't take long before Tennessee found themselves facing a fourth-and-one, which they converted on a quarterback sneak, allowing them to keep the opening drive of the game alive.
On a third-and-seven, Jarrett Guarantano connected with freshman wide receiver Jalin Hyatt for a gain of 36-yards; it was his first reception as a Vol. A run from Eric Gray, reception by Brandon Johnson, and quarterback keeper from Guarantano set Ty Chandler up for the first Tennessee Touchdown of the day from 2-yards out. After a successful PAT from Cimaglia, the Vols led 7-0 with 10:00 remaining in the first quarter.
Tennessee's defense stood tall and made a statement on their initial defensive stand of the game, holding Missouri to minimal yardage and forcing them to punt.
As the Vols took back over on offense, in an attempt to bring pressure, the Missouri defense blitzed and hit Guarantano in the backfield, and were subsequently assessed a targeting penalty.
With Tennessee moving the ball at will on their opening possession, they maintained momentum and continued to do the same on their second possession. Guarantano connected with Josh Palmer for a gain of 33-yards. However, they began to struggle offensively, and were forced to settle for a field goal attempt from Brent Cimaglia. The attempt missed wide-left, leaving Tennessee leading 7-0.
The Vols' defense again held Missouri to basically nothing on offense, forcing them to punt, regaining possession. After not capitalizing on their second possession, they hoped to replicate their initial drive of the game after taking over on offense.
Faced with another fourth down, the Volunteers elected to attempt to convert, and were successful for the third time of the day, bringing them to 3-for-3 on fourth down conversions to that point in the game. This was the final play of a first period that was dominated by the Vols. By the end of the quarte, Tennessee had held Missouri to only 13-yards.
Missouri continued to struggle against the Volunteers' rushing attack, while watching Eric Gray streak untouched into the end zone, extending the Tennessee lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Missouri elected to insert Connor Bazelak in at quarterback. Bazelak led the Tigers down the field and to their first points of the game on a field goal. After the successful kick from Missouri, they trailed Tennessee 14-3 midway through the second quarter.
The Vols maintained the 14-3 lead until the 4:17 mark in the second quarter, when Missouri added another field goal to draw back to within eight points of Tennessee at 14-6.
As Tennessee regained possession, the Tigers got a steady dose of Chandler. After working into the red zone and chewing clock, Eric Gray found the end zone for the second time of the game on a screen pass from Guarantano, giving the Vols a 21-6 lead with less than a minute left in the half. Tennessee took the 15-point lead into the locker room at the half.
To begin the second half, Missouri opened on offense, and found limited success through the air. The Tennessee defense held strong, forcing the Tigers to punt, pinning Tennessee deep in their own territory.
As the Vols worked their way down the field, a multitude of players were involved in the offense. Gray, Chandler, Palmer, and Johnson all provided an offensive spark on their initial drive of the second half.
A 16-play 92-yard drive was capped off with a Guarantano quarterback keeper for a touchdown, giving the Vols a 28-6 lead midway through the third quarter. On the Tigers' ensuing drive, they found the end zone for the first time on the day with a Rountree III touchdown. Missouri elected to attempt a 2-point conversion, which was incomplete and unsuccessful.
Leading 28-16, Tennessee resumed on offense. For the first time on the day, the Tigers were able to hold the Vols to negative yardage, forcing them into a fourth-and-28, forcing a punt.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Tennessee maintained a 28-16 lead. With Missouri driving down field on offense, Theo Jackson came down with an interception for the Vols, and returned it into Tiger territory, setting the offense up with good field position just inside the 50-yard line.
A handful of plays later, Tennessee worked further into Missouri territory, setting up just outside the 10-yard line. With Guarantano looking for Palmer in the end zone, a defensive pass interference penalty was called, setting the Vols up just outside the goal line. Tennessee couldn't cross the plane in three plays, and elected to go for their fourth, fourth-down conversion on the day. Guarantano busted across the goal line for his second rushing touchdown on the day to give the Vols a 35-12 lead after a successful Cimaglia PAT.
Tennessee held Missouri in check for the remainder of the game, allowing them to secure victory in their home opener.