By Michael Williams
The University of Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a 34-19 upset before a crowd of more than 99,500 at Neyland Stadium Saturday.
Both teams came into the game fresh from a victory hoping to tie up a second win in as many weeks. The Vols got off to a rocky start when Fredi Knighton of the Red Wolves scored a 4 yard touchdown at 11:03 of the first quarter. The extra point failed making the score 6-0.
The Vols cut the deficit when Aaron Medley kicked a field goal from the 20 yard line with 7:16 left in the quarter. The Vols tallied up the score with a 4-yard run by Jalen Hurd that resulted from a 10 play drive covering 70 yards. The extra point by Medley made the score 10-6 with 3:08 left in the quarter.
Marquez North found the end zone at 13:01 of the second quarter with a 10-yard pass from Justin Worley. Medley’s extra point attempt was successful making the score 17-6.The Red Wolves offense was repeatedly frustrated by the Voluinteers.
The Red Wolves cut the deficit with a 13-play drive covering 72 yards. A 9-yard pass from Knighton to Tres Houston closed the gap by 6. The extra point attempt failed making the score 17-12.
The Vols retaliated with a well-coordinated 10 play drive moved the home team 71 yards toward the end zone. Worley rushed in for the score and Medley capped it off with another successful kick making the score 24-12 at the half.
The Vols turned up the heat in the third quarter but met with stubborn resistance from the Red Wolves’ defense. Late in the third the Vols scored again after a 10 play drive that covered 64 yards. Worley passed to North to score on a 14-yard touchdown. The extra point medley was good giving the Vols a commanding 31-12 lead with 3:21 left in the quarter.
Undeterred, the Red Wolves rallied late the fourth quarter with an impressive 24 yard run by DeKeathan Williams. The extra point attempt by Luke Ferguson passed through the uprights to make the score 31-19.
The Vols defense repeatedly turned back the Red Wolves thwarting their attempts to score. With the clock ticking down Medley added three more points to the Vols lead with a successful field goal from the 38 yard line.
In the post-game press conference UT Coach Butch Jones praised his team but referred to the win as growing experience.
“Our defense was resilient,” said Jones. “Make no mistake about it. We have a long way to go. I thought our players grew a little today. This game was a great teaching opportunity.”
Jones said he plans to have his team on the practice field Monday to begin preparations for their next game against the no. 4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners next Saturday.