Tennessee broke into the win column in a big way on Saturday.
The Vols jumped out early and never looked back in a 45-0 victory over Chattanooga inside Neyland Stadium for the first win of the 2019 season.
“It’s really nice for these guys,” Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “We got a good win and got five turnovers today, which was very important. We didn’t turn the ball over, which was probably the difference in the game. We created some opportunities in special teams and with the turnovers, we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”
“I don’t know how many guys we played, but we had the opportunity to play a whole lot of guys. That was good for those guys. We definitely improved from last week to this week. It was a good day. We’ve got to be more consistent on both sides of the ball and we’ll do that the more these guys get an opportunity to play.”
Tennessee set the tone on the opening kickoff.
Ty Chandler took the kick and raced 58 yards to set the Vols offense deep into Mocs territory and then capped off a quick six-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown run.
After the Vols forced UTC to punt on the ensuing drive, Tyler Byrd broke free through the line and blocked the punt. Brandon Johnson returned it 24 yards for the touchdown to give UT a two-score lead.
Tennessee capped off the first quarter when Nigel Warrior intercepted a UTC pass to set-up a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Gurantano to Jauan Jennings to give the Vols a 21-0 advantage going to the second quarter.
“Well, it definitely helps when you choose to play on offense to start the game,” Pruitt said. “When you fumble the ball on the second play of the game, that doesn’t help. When you choose to take the ball on offense and you take the opening kickoff back 65 yards, that helps. Then the next time they get the ball, you block the punt and scoop and score it helps a lot. The key to the drill is, when you’re on offense, take care of the ball and create explosive plays. On defense, get the ball. To me, that’s what we’re talking about.”
The second quarter was much the same as the Vols saw Guarantano hit Marquez Callaway and Cedric Tillman for touchdowns while Brent Cimaglia added a 34-yard field goal to send Tennessee to the locker room with a 38-0 lead.
Brian Maurer added a six-yard touchdown in the second half to cap the scoring.
It was the first shutout for Tennessee since hold UTEP scoreless last season as the Vols forced five turnovers in the game.
Guarantano was 7-of-8 passing for 142 yards and three touchdowns.
Chandler finished with 46 yards on the ground with 10 carries, while Tim Jordan and Eric Gray had 33 and 32 yards, respectively. Fred Orr also had 32 yards.
Callaway led all receivers with two catches for 50 yards.
In all, Tennessee outgained UTC 360-227.
The Vols turn their attention to SEC play as UT will travel to Gainesville next Saturday.