The Tennessee Volunteers (3-5, 0-4 SEC) dropped yet another game back in the SEC, suffering their eigth-straight loss to cross-division rival Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC), 34-20 on Saturday night.
As expected, Justin Worley did not play and, by some accounts, will not play for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. Redshirt Sophomore Nathan Peterman started the game, but was relieved after only two drives by sophomore Josh Dobbs.
The Alabama Crimson Tide scored on the first possession on a one-play drive in which Amari Cooper took a dump off 80 yards down the field for a touchdown, but had the PAT blocked. Cooper had a spectacular night, breaking Julio Jones’ record for most receiving yards in a game with 224, while also scoring two touchdowns. The Heisman contender picked up 185 of his receiving yards in the first quarter.
The Tide then scored on another Amari Cooper touchdown to go up 13-0 on the Vols. The Tennessee defense continued to struggle in the first quarter, with T.J. Yeldon running the ball for a one-yard touchdown with 3:12 left in the first.
After a few more big catches from Cooper, Derrick Henry had a 28-yard run of his own. The Tide led early in the second quarter 27-0.
Josh Dobbs and the Volunteer offense then started making a comeback midway through the second quarter.
The sophomore quarterback hit freshman receiver Josh Malone for a nine-yard touchdown pass, the first touchdown of Malone’s career. Tennessee’s defense started to tighten up as well, forcing the first Alabama punt of the day in the second quarter. The Vols drove down the field to the ten-yard line where Aaron Medley hit a 27-yard field goal to end the half, reducing the Tide advantage to 27-10 at half time.
After an Alabama three and out, Tennessee took the ball 84 yards down the field with Josh Dobbs connecting with Von Pearson on a nine-yard touchdown to cap off the drive. The Tide responded with a long drive that ended with another Derrick Henry touchdown run.
After trading punts early in the fourth quarter, Josh Dobbs threw his only interception of the game, forcing a deep ball into double coverage. Alabama wasn’t able to do much with the ensuing possession as Blake Sims fumbled on the next play, with Corey Vereen recovering the fumble for the Vols at the Alabama 23-yard line.
Dobbs then led the Vols all the way to the 6-yard line, but had to settle for another field goal, with Alabama holding a 34-20 lead with 9:45 left in the game. The Tide then held onto the ball for seven minutes, but gave the Volunteers a chance after a Jalston Fowler fumble. Tennessee’s offense got to the 41-yard line, but could not muster any down field plays, turning the ball over on downs to end the game.
The Vols will look to bounce back next week against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium with game time set at 6:30.
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