By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Entering a sea of orange and white in the Neyland Stadium stands, the Tennessee Tech football team knew they were in for a challenge.
Against the Tennessee Volunteers, they certainly got it. While a 56-0 defeat seems pretty difficult to find a positive, there are signs for optimism as the Golden Eagles enter Ohio Valley Conference play next week.
But in Saturday's loss in Knoxville, there are still the results of what the Southeastern Conference program was able to pull together. The Vols (2-1) rolled up 417 yards of offense, including 202 yards on the ground and 215 through the air.
Hendon Hooker threw for three touchdowns and 199 yards on 17-of-25 passing, while Harrison Bailey was 3-for-7 for 16 yards. Velus Jones Jr. (three receptions for 63 yards), JaVonta Payton (three catches for 46 yards) and Jacob Warren (three catches for 10 yards) each hauled in touchdowns.
Hooker and Bailey also rushed in for scores, while Jaylen Wright (43 yards on nine carries) and Tiyon Evans (41 yards on 15 carries) also found pay dirt on the ground.
Of Tennessee's 14 possessions in the contest, seven of them ended in touchdowns, including a 96-yard drive on nine plays.
Tech ended up in Volunteer territory five times in the contest, including the final three drives of the contest. After starting quarterback Willie Miller came out of the game from an injury in the second quarter – a 2-for-10 performance for 18 yards and a team-high 30 rushing yards on 10 carries to his credit, Davis Shanley came in and completed 5-of-10 passes for 33 yards. Drew Martin came in toward the end of the third quarter and had a solid performance, connecting on 10 of his 14 passes for a team-high 95 yards.
The Volunteers, however, were able to intercept four passes – one each on Martin and Miller, two against Shanley. It was the most since Tech
It wasn't all negatives for the Golden Eagles. The Tech defense did come up with some big stops, forcing the Vols to punt four times and turn the ball over on downs on another drive. Tech's defense set up a potential scoring drive as Jayvian Allen forced a fumble on a big hit on Hooker. Cameron Hudson scooped up the ball and raced down the sideline for a 35-yard return to the UT 30. Tech inched closer, setting up a 41-yard field goal attempt for Devin Parker, but the try sailed to the right.
The Golden Eagles return to action next Saturday as they come back home to Tucker Stadium to open OVC play against Eastern Illinois. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information