17 Tennessee wins in front of record crowd
Send a link to a friend
[September 12, 2016]
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- For Tennessee
coach Butch Jones, this one was special.
"We talk to the players all the time about leaving a legacy," he
And the 17th-ranked Volunteers certainly made some memories while
taking strides toward being the team they want to be Saturday night,
overcoming a rocky start in the Battle of Bristol as they routed
mistake-prone Virginia Tech 45-24 in front of the largest crowd in
As 156,990 fans watched at Bristol Motor Speedway in a game 20 years
in the making, Tennessee (2-0) was outgained 204-28 in the first
quarter and trailed 14-0. A predominantly orange-clad crowd was
quiet, their team resembling a car that wrecked on the first turn in
the first lap.
Then the Hokies started hitting the wall because they couldn't hang
on to the ball. And at the same time, Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs
started making plays with his arm and legs.
Jerod Evans' botched handoff on the second quarter's first play led
to a fumble that Micah Abernathy recovered at the Tech 5. Dobbs hit
Jauan Jennings on a fade pattern on the next play and Tennessee was
on the board 17 seconds into the quarter.
That started an avalanche of 31 straight Vols points that followed a
familiar template: The defense got the ball to the offense, normally
in prime position, and Dobbs cashed in with big plays.
Aside from a 90-yard drive that led to Tennessee's tying touchdown,
Dobbs' 38-yard pass to Josh Malone, the Vols went 58 yards or less
on five of their other six scoring drives. Three touchdowns occurred
after lost fumbles, and an 11-yard punt that rolled backward 25
yards after hitting Tennessee's Malik Foreman set it up at the
Hokies' 23 for a field goal.
Tech (1-1) lost five fumbles, giving it a whopping nine in the first
two games of coach Justin Fuente's regime. It also mixed in eight
penalties for 101 yards, committing two penalties on two separate
"We turned the ball over too many times and we weren't so
disciplined at other times," Fuente said. "Obviously, we have to do
a better job of teaching or emphasizing ball security, because it's
inadequate right now."
Dobbs rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, setting
the program's career record for most rushing yards by a quarterback
with 1,431. He also threw for 91 yards and three more scores on
[to top of second column]
His 5-yard run off a planned draw with 39 seconds left in the first
half gave the Vols a 24-14 halftime lead. Midway through the third
quarter, Dobbs ripped off a 31-yard run to break Jimmy Streater's
previous school mark of 1,374 rushing yards by a quarterback. That
set up a 23-yard scoring strike to Alvin Kamara.
Dobbs landed the kill shot with a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter
to make it 38-17, inspiring Tennessee fans to chant "SEC, SEC."
"We showed perseverance and resiliency," Jones said. "We didn't get
off to the start we wanted to, but we woke up a little bit and
played Tennessee-style football."
Evans completed 20 of 28 passes for 214 yards, playing effectively
early as the Hokies moved up and down the field at will. He found
Sam Rogers for a 7-yard touchdown pass that initiated scoring at the
4:32 mark of the first quarter.
Travon McMillian, who led all rushers with 127 yards on 14 attempts,
ripped off a 69-yard burst off left tackles to make it 14-0 at the
2:48 mark. At that point, Tech owned a 193-6 advantage in total
But the Hokies' tendency for crippling errors helped the Vols gain
traction. Tech managed only 196 yards after the first quarter,
Tennessee's front seven generating a spate of lost-yardage plays.
Meanwhile, the Vols did one basic thing, according to Dobbs.
"It was a matter of being patient," he said. "Their defense changed
up their looks, but our defense gave us great field position all
NOTES: Before Saturday night, the teams' last meeting was in the
2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, a 37-14 Virginia Tech win that
capped Lane Kiffin's only season as Tennessee coach. ... There was
plenty of star power at the coin toss as Peyton Manning represented
the Volunteers while Bruce Smith and Frank Beamer repped the Hokies.
... Tennessee DE Jonathan Kongbo (ankle/foot) left in the first
quarter but was able to return.
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.