Tennessee ended the 2020 regular season with another loss, finishing the season with a 3-7 mark. It was a very familiar sight in Knoxville today, as the Vols were simply overpowered by a better football team.
Harrison Bailey got the start at quarterback and made things look easy on the opening drive for Tennessee, going 3-3 on his way to an early six points. Bailey worked over the Texas A&M defense, which was selling out early to stop the run. The freshman signal caller found Jacob Warren on a wheel route to strike first.
After a bumpy first few plays, Kellen Mond matched Bailey. He worked the intermediate all the way down the field and then punched the ball in himself, bringing us to a 7-7 game midway through the first quarter.
A Tennessee punt led to another opportunity for Texas A&M, which Isaiah Spiller cashed in. A Harrison Bailey fumble was then recovered by the Aggies, giving Mond a short field to potentially go up two scores. The Tennessee defense bent, but didn’t break, stuffing Mond at the five yard line. A&M added a field goal, extending their lead to 17-7 with under six minutes to play in the half.
Following Bailey’s fumble, his second of the game, J.T. Shrout entered — and delivered. He found Cedric Tillman on the sidelines to get the chains moving, then went right back to Tillman to strike for six. It was a beautiful throw and an even better catch, breathing new life into Tennessee.
The Vols needed another stop from their defense and appeared to get one, only for a Deandre Johnson hands to the face penalty to extend the drive. Mond once again took advantage, quickly entering the Tennessee redzone. He delivered another touchdown pass with 23 seconds to go, finding Ainias Smith.
At the halftime break, A&M held a 24-13 lead.
It was more of the same in the third quarter. Kellen Mond kept finding ways to convert third downs, mainly by tossing it out to his running back Isaiah Spiller. This allowed the Aggies to slowly work down the field, manufacturing long drive after long drive. Just when it looked like Texas A&M was about to ride off into the sunset, Mond made a crucial error.
Alontae Taylor picked him off in the endzone and brought it all the way back to midfield. With 17 minutes left in the game, Tennessee was still very much in this one.
Needing a quick score to really climb back in this one, Tennessee went three and out instead. Two straight false starts ruined the drive from the jump, bringing out Paxton Brooks one more time.
Time began running thin, and A&M kept the chains moving. With nine minutes left to play, the Aggies put this one away. Ainias Smith scored one more time, moving the A&M lead to 31-13.
This one was over.
Texas A&M dominated every aspect of this game, including 500 yards of total offense and holding the ball for over 44 minutes of the game. It was another reminder of just how far away Tennessee is from the top programs in the conference, and it leaves Phillip Fulmer with some immediate evaluating to do.
Mercifully, the regular season has drawn to a close for Tennessee. Now we wait for a potential bowl bid.