The Vols (4-5, 0-5) got an early lead and never looked back in their 24-0 victory over MTSU in front of an announced crowd of 88,211 Saturday night.
The Vols scored all 24 points the first half and used a solid defense in the second half to coast to victory.
Freshman quarterback Justin Worley looked much more comfortable this week as he completed 23 of 32 attempts for 291 yards and a touchdown.
“He was very calm and composed, still made some mistakes but what a great game,” said head coach Derek Dooley.
Worley’s first career touchdown pass was a 47-yard strike to Da’Rick Rogers on a deep post in the first quarter. Worley looked to Rogers all night who finished with nine catches and 137 yards.
The defense played their best game of the year according to Dooley in posting the shutout. They picked off two passes in the first half and Jacques Smith forced a fumble in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout.
Austin Johnson’s second interception of the season and return to the 7-yard line set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Tauren Poole to give the Vols the early 7-0 lead.
“I was in the right place at the right time. It was big for this team, just hopefully I can get in the end zone sometime,” Johnson said.
The Vols were able to hold the Raiders to just 97 yards rushing and 230 total yards of offense.
An Eric Gordon interception led to a Derrick Brodus 21-yard field goal to end the first half. Brodus was forced into action with Michael Palardy being out and Chip Rome injuring his leg in warm-ups.
Brodus received a phone call at 6:10 p.m. and was escorted by police to get to the stadium in time for the 7 p.m. kickoff.
“I thought it was a dream. I was lying down on the couch. I answer my phone, and they (coaches) tell me to get to the stadium as soon as possible,” Brodus said.
While the Vols had success through the air the running game was still lackluster.
Poole, Jaron Toney, and Marlin Lane all had a handful of carries with limited success. Poole had two touchdowns but only managed 20 yards on 11 carries. Toney got the bulk of the load with 19 carries that produced 56 yards.
Lane was even utilized as the quarterback in a wildcat formation that Dooley previously said he would not use.
“We’re searching in the run game. We’re not lighting it up running the ball, and I wanted to see Jaron. We’re just going to start running some wildcat,” Dooley said.
Tennessee will get back to SEC play next week when they travel to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
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