KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee picked up its first win of the season with a 45-0 shutout over UT Chattanooga on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and marked the first shutout since last season’s 24-0 rout over UTEP.
Vols junior running back Ty Chandler opened the game with a 58 yard kickoff return and Tennessee never looked back. Six plays later, Chandler capped off the Vols’ first drive with a 13 yard touchdown run.
After Chattanooga’s first possession stalled out with a three-and-out, Tennessee senior wide receiver Tyler Byrd blocked the Mocs’ punt before Brandon Johnson, another senior wideout, returned it 24 yards to give Big Orange a 14-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.
With the offense and special teams making early impacts, Tennessee’s defense provided the next spark when Nigel Warrior intercepted Nick Tiano on the Mocs’ next drive. Warrior returned the pick 22 yards to the Chattanooga 16 yard line, setting up a quick scoring drive for Tennessee. The Vols only needed three plays as Jarrett Guarantano connected with Jauan Jennings on 3rd down for a 12 yard touchdown pass, giving Tennessee a 21-0 advantage.
With a three touchdown lead, Tennessee turned to a backup quarterback for the first time this season when Brian Maurer made his career debut with over seven minutes left in the first quarter. The freshman from Ocala, Fla. did not do much in his first drive, handing it off to Eric Gray twice before an eight yard run on third down led to a punt.
Chattanooga worked a nine-play drive down to Tennessee’s 11 yard line before redshirt senior outside linebacker Darrell Taylor recovered a fumble for the Vols.
With Guarantano back at quarterback to start the second quarter, the redshirt junior found Marquez Callaway six plays later on a 39 yard touchdown pass to push Tennessee’s lead to 28-0.
Redshirt freshman Cedric Tillman entered Saturday’s game with two career catches. Tillman matched that against the Mocs on top of scoring his first career touchdown on a 28 yard pass from Guarantano to put Tennessee in front 35-0 in the second quarter.
J.T. Shrout, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Santa Clarita, Ca., made his debut for Tennessee before halftime as well. Shrout’s first collegiate pass was intercepted but a roughing the passer penalty negated the play. From there, Shrout led Tennessee on an 11-play drive that finished with a Brent Cimaglia 34 yard field goal.
While Maurer only threw two incomplete passes, he was able to find the end zone for the first time in his career. Maurer scored Tennessee’s only touchdown of the second half with over 12 minutes to play in the third quarter.
Tennessee (1-2) travels to Florida Sept. 21 at Noon.