Vols stunned by in-state rival Vanderbilt
The Vols jumped out to an early lead against Vanderbilt and appeared to have a Sugar Bowl birth in their sights, but after a second-half performance that was anything but sweet, Tennessee lost to its in-state rival, 45-34.
Tennessee lost its fourth and final game of the regular season to Vanderbilt after only scoring three points in the second half on Saturday.
The 45-34 upset pushed Vanderbilt to bowl eligibility and likely shot down Tennessee’s hopes of a Sugar Bowl appearance.
“To give up 600 yards and 40-plus points, that’s unacceptable” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said after the game. For the Vols, it is the third game in a row in which the defense has given up at least 600 yards of total offense.
The game was a tale of two halves for Tennessee. After leading 21-7 early in the second quarter from three Alvin Kamara touchdowns, the Vols seemed to be cruising to their ninth win of the season. By the end of the half, however, the score was 31-24 and Vanderbilt, although losing, had already gained 340 total yards.
In the second half, Tennessee scored first and jumped out to a 34-24 lead. Aaron Medley’s 25-yard field goal would be the last score for the Vols in the final 18 minutes and 57 seconds of the game.
Where Tennessee struggled, Vanderbilt executed. The Commodores scored on each of their next three possessions via rushing touchdowns from three different players. Those scores gave Vanderbilt a 45-34 lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the game.
“In the second half, [Vanderbilt] out-executed us. We didn’t do a good job of sustaining drives; you can’t turn the football over,” Jones said.
A costly fumble by Josh Dobbs late in the third quarter turned the momentum of the game over to Vanderbilt during a time in which the Vols still maintained a narrow 34-31 lead. On their next drive, the Vols failed to score again after Medley missed a 37-yard field goal off of the right upright.
Despite the turnover, Dobbs had one of his most efficient games as a Volunteer. He finished with only three incompletions on the night while completing 31 of 34 pass attempts. Dobbs threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and had 53 yards on the ground as well.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur finished with a career-high 416 yards passing and two touchdowns.
That is the final game of the regular season for both teams.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Donald Page, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
When Robert isn't writing stories for the greatest online news site of all time, he enjoys playing the tuba, hanging out with friends, and opening the "T" on Saturdays in Knoxville. You can follow him on Twitter-@tnytuba09