KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee bounced back in a big way after last week’s loss to Florida, taking down UTSA 45-14 after jumping out to a 31-0 lead at half.
With Tennessee’s offense struggling through the first three games, Joe Milton decided to make a statement early against UTSA.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Vol quarterback kept the ball himself and ran it 81 yards to the end zone for the opening score. It marks the longest rush by a Tennessee quarterback in program history.
After the Tennessee defense forced a three-and-out, the Vol offense marched down the field and tacked on another touchdown. Dylan Sampson ran it in from 10 yards out to cap off a nine-play, 62-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead just five minutes into the game.
The Roadrunners got in scoring range thanks to a couple of solid runs, including a 14-yard rush up the middle from Robert Henry. UTSA went for it on fourth-and-three, but Eddie Lee Marburger’s shot towards the end zone fell short of his receiver.
The Vols following drive ended with a 52-yard field goal try from Charles Campbell, but the ball sailed wide left to keep it a two-score ballgame after the first quarter.
The Tennessee offense got back to work early in the second quarter as Jabari Small ran it 40 yards into UTSA territory. Joe Milton finished off the two-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kaleb Webb for the redshirt-freshman’s first score of his Vol career and the 21-0 lead.
As Josh Heupel’s offense finally came to life, the defense continued to cause problems on the other end, forcing four three-and-outs on UTSA’s first five drives.
Milton then threw a 48-yard pass right into the hands of Ramel Keyton to extend Tennessee’s lead to 28-0 in the second quarter. With nine minutes to go in the half, Milton was 14-for-16 with 156 passing yards, 94 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
With UTSA trying to get something going offensively, Tamarion McDonald picked off Marburger to give the Vols the ball right back. Tennessee’s second interception of the season resulted in a Charles Campbell 29-yard field goal on the other end to make it 31-0 at half.
The Roadrunners switched quarterbacks to start out the second half and saw immediate results with Owen McCown. UTSA scored back-to-back touchdowns with the redshirt-freshman under center, which included a 43-yard score from Alcoa product, Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, to cut into Tennessee’s lead 31-14.
After being held scoreless in the third, Tennessee got back on the board in the fourth quarter, thanks to a couple of rushes from Jabari Small to get into the end zone. Small ran it in from a yard out to give the Vols a 38-14 lead.
Sampson scored his second touchdown of the night on a 41-yard run, as the sophomore finished with a career-high 139 rushing yards. The running back now has six touchdowns through just three games, matching his total from last year’s nine outings.
The Vols are back at Neyland next Saturday as they host South Carolina at 7:30 p.m.