Tennessee finally got back on the winning side of things.
The Vols snapped a six-game losing streak with a 42-17 road victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “I’m proud of our coaching staff – I thought they had a really good game plan. It’s good to see them have fun.”
Tennessee is set to wrap up the different 2020 regular season on Saturday as Texas A&M is slated to visit Neyland Stadium.
Against the Commodores, Tennessee was dominant, and it started on the defensive side of the ball.
“I thought defensively we played much better on third down, which helped us a lot,” Pruitt said. “Probably far and away our best game on third down defensively.”
“Thought we got a lot of pressure on the quarterback on defense – at least affected him. I don’t know how many times we sacked him, but we got him off the spot, got him moved around.”
The Tennessee offense also had a strong game with Harrison Bailey and J.T. Shrout at the helm.
Bailey, a true freshman, was 14-of-18 passing for 207 yards, while Shrout was 6-of-13 for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
“When we decided to go with Harrison and J.T. – Brian (Maurer) got hurt tonight, he made a nice run down there – we’re looking for the future,” Pruitt said. “We kind of stayed the course through the season, the way the stop and start and getting these guys caught up a little bit, gives us an opportunity and we just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Velus Jones Jr. had a strong showing as he caught seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Jalin Hyatt and Princeton Fant each also had a receiving touchdown for the Vols.
Fant and Bailey opened the scoring in the first quarter as the duo connected for a six-yard touchdown with just under six minutes remaining in the quarter.
Vanderbilt answered on their next drive as Ken Seals hit Cam Johnson for an 18-yard pass.
History was made on the ensuing extra point as Sarah Fuller kicked it right down the middle. It was the first time that a woman scored points in a Power 5 football game.
“I think it is awesome,” Pruitt said. “I said earlier in the week, having a daughter earlier this year, just the opportunity that Sarah Fuller has probably created for other young ladies that maybe want to follow that path one day. She has done a fantastic job on the soccer team here at Vanderbilt. She’s obviously a winner, and she walked out there and kicked in right through. So I just think it says a whole lot about her and really kind of her fortitude to be brave enough to do this.”
Vanderbilt took the lead early in the second quarter with a 39-yard field goal from Pierson Cooke.
From there, Tennessee took control the rest of the half.
Bryce Thompson nabbed a one-handed interception and returned it 18 yards for a pick-six. On the next Tennessee drive, Jones Jr. and Shrout connected for a 23-yard pass to give the Vols a 21-10 lead with 5:52 left in the half.
The Vols pushed the lead to 28-10 in the final minute of the second quarter as Hyatt caught a pass from Shrout and took it 26 yards for a touchdown.
Tennessee added to the lead early in the third quarter when Ty Chandler raced in from 20 yards out as the Vols hit the cruise button.
After Vandy added a 16-yard Seals touchdown pass, Bailey and Jones Jr. connected for a 74-yard touchdown to account for the final score.
Eric Gray finished with 74 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Chandler had nine carries for 61 yards.
Seals went 22-of-39 passing for 239 yards to pace Vanderbilt.
Photos Courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications