The Vols were able to get off to a raucous start (a 28-point first quarter-start, to be exact) en route to a big 55-24 win over the Tigers on Saturday. Hendon Hooker and the Tennessee offense shredded the Tiger defense en route to a 677-yard day (that includes 452 rushing yards) and the Vols defense contained the Tigers offense for what turned out to be a heck of win for the Big Orange.
A Jeremy Banks sack forced the Tigers into a 3rd and 14. Missouri barley avoided a Christian Charles interception on the next play and had to punt the ball after the three-and-out.
Tennessee’s first drive of the game went much, much differently. The Vols did a good job of mixing in the run and the pass, which led to a deep shot from Hendon Hooker to JaVonta Payton for a 35-yard touchdown strike off play action. Chase McGrath’s PAT went through the uprights and the Vols led, 7-0, with 12:28. left in the first quarter.
Hendon Hooker with the great pass to JaVonta Payton for a TD pic.twitter.com/zsQiMk5v0M— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) October 2, 2021
Missouri’s following drive was the epitome of back-and-forth in terms of production. The Tigers notched five plays of 10-yards or more, but they also had three holding penalties on the drive that eventually led to a 43-yard field goal from Harrison Mevis to make it a 7-3 game. It’s safe to say that Mizzou would’ve scored a touchdown if it weren’t for the penalties.
It didn’t take long for the Vols to score their second touchdown of the game. The Vols drove 75-yards in seven plays (they were aided by an eight-yard DPI call) to watch Tiyon Evans run into the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown to make it a 13-3 game. Another McGrath PAT moved the score to 14-3 and the Vols were officially cooking with 143 total yards of offense and two touchdowns on their first two drives.
Tiyon Evans in for 6.— James O'Saile (@JamesOSaile) October 2, 2021
TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE pic.twitter.com/BSr7kjx66U
Tyler Badie got Missouri’s next drive started off with a 17-yard gain, but Tennessee’s defense held up and forced a punt three plays later. Evans and the UT offense immediately made the Tigers pay - Evans broke off a 92-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Vols’ following drive and the subsequent PAT made it a 21-3 game with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
It looked like the Tigers were about to go three-and-out, but Barrett Bannister was able to make an impressive, toe-tapping catch on the sideline. It’d be a surprise if the play doesn’t make Sportcenter’s Top-10.
But Bannister’s efforts died in vain. Connor Bazelak tried to hit Damon Hazleton while under pressure from Solon Page III, but was picked off by Banks, who returned it all the way down to the Missouri 1.
Evans punched it in on the next play, the PAT went through, and the score was now, 28-3, with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
Tiyon Evans punches it in— James O'Saile (@JamesOSaile) October 2, 2021
TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE pic.twitter.com/i2sLF39GD2
But Mizzou responded with an impressive drive. The offense quickly faced a 3rd and 9, but Bazelak found Daniel Parker for a 17-yard gain and Badie ran for 15-yards on the next play to move the ball into Tennessee territory. Missouri then converted a 4th and 1 from the UT33 and Badie scored four plays later from six-yards out to make it a 28-9 game. Bevis’ PAT went through, making it a 28-10 game with 11:38 to go in the first half.
TOUCHDOWN MISSOURI— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 2, 2021
Tyler Badie with the TD Run pic.twitter.com/2iOp5xr0Sr
Tennessee’s offense picked right up where it left off with gains of 11- and 29-yards on the first two plays, but soon faced a 3rd and 12 thanks to a Martez Manuel sack. But it didn’t matter as Velus Jones Jr. took a screen pass 35-yards to the house, making it a 35-10 game after the PAT went through. The Vols wasted no time, burning 1:37 off the clock.
Velus Jones Jr. with some shifty moves on his way to the end zone pic.twitter.com/nOydl9ywwB— 104-5 The Zone (@1045TheZone) October 2, 2021
Missouri’s offense couldn’t get it done on the next drive, but the Vols offense continued to score. It took a 4th and 1 conversion, but Tennessee was able to score its sixth touchdown of the game after Hooker took it into the end zone himself on the zone read. Tennessee’s offense continued to take chunks out of the field with gains of 13, 19, and 33 on the drive and now led, 42-10, with 5:08 left in the first half.
Hendon Hooker keeps it.— James O'Saile (@JamesOSaile) October 2, 2021
TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE pic.twitter.com/0383m4D64y
Tennessee eventually closed the first half with a field goal and would go into halftime with a 45-10 lead.
The Vols received the ball to start the second half and was able to kick a field goal after a 10-play drive. Toby Wilson -Missouri’s kick returner- then returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the house for a touchdown to make it 48-17 game.
But Hooker and the Vols offense continued to roll along. Hooker completed three passes for 47-yards and added 17 on the ground during the Vols’ next drive. Those numbers include a 24-yard strike to Cedric Tillman down the middle to make it a 55-17 game with 7:25 to go in the third quarter.
Hendon Hooker to Cedric Tillman— James O'Saile (@JamesOSaile) October 2, 2021
TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE pic.twitter.com/7U2YU7032J
Bazelak continued to fight and was able to get his team into Tennessee territory, but Jaylen McCollough came through with his second interception of the 2021 season and ended the drive on 4th and 13 from the UT43. McCollough was able to return the interception past midfield to the Tiger 49, giving the Vols offense great starting field position.
It appeared as if the Vols were going to score another touchdown, but Mizzou was able to stop Evans for no gain on 4th and goal from the Tiger 1. Keke Chism was able to move the ball into Tennessee territory on the very next play thanks to a 56-yard catch-and-run. All of a sudden, the Tigers were close to scoring range just a couple of plays later.
Bazelak completed 5/6 passes for 30 more yards and then two misdirection plays put the Tigers in the end zone for the first time since the second quarter. It was now a 55-24 Tennessee lead with a little over five minutes left in the game.
Reserve running back Marcus Pierce joined in on the fun, dashing into the end zone from 27-yards out to make it a 62-24 game. The Tigers ran the clock out the rest of the way, making that the final score.
The Vols are now 3-2 on the season and will host the South Carolina Gamecocks in Neyland Stadium next weekend. Kickoff is currently set for 12PM EST.