Vols roll past Vandy, 42-17

Published 8:01 pm Sunday, December 13, 2020

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Tennessee was dominant in all phases of the game in a convincing 42-17 win over in-state rival Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville.

UT (3-6) was led by true freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey, who completed 14-of-18 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, all career highs.

The freshman connected with redshirt senior wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. on a 74-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring. Jones finished the contest as UT’s top receiver with 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven receptions, all career highs.

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Redshirt sophomore J.T. Shrout entered the game in relief in the second quarter and saw action throughout the game. The Santa Clarita, California, native completed 6-of-13 passes for 90 yards and a career-best two touchdowns.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Henry To’o To’o paced the Vols with 10 tackles, half of a tackle for loss and a pair of pass breakups. Junior defensive back Bryce Thompson had a pair of tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter, a play that turned the momentum of the game.

Vanderbilt (0-9) was led by quarterback Ken Seals, who was 22-of-39 passing for 239 yards. Seals threw a pair of touchdowns and one interception.

After the UT defense opened the game with a pair of three-and-outs, the Vols opened the scoring on a nine-play, 42-yard touchdown drive with 5:54 left in the first quarter. Bailey connected with redshirt junior tight end Princeton Fant on a 6-yard touchdown reception.

Sophomore kicker Toby Wilson followed with the extra point. Fant and Wilson, both Nashville-area products, scored their first points for the Orange and White in their hometown.

The Commodores responded immediately with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive to tie the game at seven with 1:50 to go in the opening quarter.

Following a UT turnover, Vanderbilt’s Pierson Cooke hit a 39-yard field goal to give the Commodores a 10-7 advantage.

Momentum shifted midway through the second quarter when Thompson pulled in a one-handed interception and took it 18 yards to the house to put the Vols back ahead 14-10 with 8:37 remaining in the half. The interception was the eighth of Thompson’s career and his first pick-six.

The Vols offense switched into high gear and scored 21 unanswered points heading into halftime. Shrout connected with Jones Jr. on a 23-yard touchdown reception, before tossing a 26-yarder to freshman Jalin Hyatt to give the Vols a 28-10 lead with just under a minute left in the half.

UT continued their first-half momentum, scoring on a five-play, 72-yard drive to open the third quarter. Senior running back Ty Chandler capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown rush.

With 7:22 left in the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt scored on a five-play, 59-yard drive to cut the Vols lead to 35-17.

The Vols responded immediately as Bailey and Jones Jr. connected on a 74-yard touchdown pass to give UT a 42-17 lead in the final frame. It was Tennessee’s longest play from scrimmage this season.

The Vols return to Neyland Stadium for Senior Day on Dec. 19 to take on No. 5 Texas A&M at noon ET.