The Tennessee Volunteers (2-5, 1-3 SEC) went into Saturday night’s matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) as 34.5-point underdogs but found themselves down only 15 points with a chance to make it a one-score game in the fourth quarter.
Then disaster struck.
Facing fourth-and-inches from inside the one, Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano tried to go over the top and fumbled the ball into the end zone. Trevon Diggs scooped up the fumble and raced 100 yards to cap Alabama’s scoring and seal the 35-13 victory.
It was that kind of night for Tennessee. Costly mistakes plagued the Vols throughout the game and ultimately doomed their upset bid in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“I think our guys learned a lot about themselves tonight,” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said in the post-game press conference. “I couldn’t be happier with their effort that they tried to play with. We made some very critical mistakes in the game.”
Alabama struck first when Najee Harris found the end zone from one yard out to give the Crimson Tide an early 7-0 lead.
The Crimson Tide looked poised to take an early two-score lead, but Nigel Warrior intercepted Tua Tagovailoa and returned the ball 59 yards to the Alabama 41 to spark Tennessee’s only touchdown drive of the game. The Vols tied the game 7-7 when quarterback Brian Mauer dove into the end zone from two yards out.
By the second quarter, the mistakes started to pile up for Tennessee.
The Vols drove inside the 10 with a chance to tie the game, but penalties pushed them back to the 20-yard line. A costly penalty came when Jauan Jennings’s touchdown was erased by a holding penalty. Ultimately, Tennessee had to settle for a field goal. Brent Cimaglia connected from 37 yards out to make the score 14-10.
Another costly mistake came in the third quarter when Darrell Taylor committed a personal foul penalty on third-and-10. That penalty kept Alabama’s drive alive and set up its only score in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide extended their lead to 28-13 when Slade Bolden found Miller Forristall from six yards out.
Tennessee backup quarterback Jarrett Guarantano came in during the second quarter after Brian Maurer left the game with a possible concussion. Guarantano went 7-of-16 for 55 yards in the game.
On the ground, Tim Jordan led the Vols with 94 yards on 17 carries. Tennessee finished the night with 231 yards of total offense.
Up next: Tennessee will host South Carolina at Neyland Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. EDT.
Edited by Christian Knox and Ainsley Kelso
Featured image by Ben Gleason