KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Tennessee intercepted three passes, closed Southeastern Conference leader Kylin Hill and injured quarterback Brian Maurer in a 20-10 win over Mississippi on Saturday.
The Volunteers (2-4, 1-2 SEC) played a six-game match against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents that began last November. A gear shift helped reverse the fortune as Tennessee wore orange pants for the first time since the 49-36 victory over Kentucky on November 12, 2016.
Jarrett Guarantano replaced injured Maurer at the end of the first half and was 6 of 7 by 106 yards, including a 39-yard submission to Tyler Byrd with 2:35 remaining.
After the state of Mississippi (3-3, 1-2) reduced Tennessee's lead to 13-10 on Garrett Shrader's 17-yard touchdown pass to Deddrick Thomas with 8:27 remaining, Tennessee drained much of the clock and eventually scored a touchdown of its own.
Byrd grabbed a Guarantano pass about 2 yards past the scrimmage line, went left and ran down the sideline to the left end zone for the third touchdown capture of the senior's career.
Tim Jordan of Tennessee made a 15-yard touchdown and Brent Cimaglia kicked 49 and 22-yard field goals.
That was more than enough for the Tennessee defense.
Hill entered the day with an average of 119.2 yards per game, but Tennessee limited him to 13 yards on 11 loads. It was the second consecutive game in which he was kept under 50 yards after he passed the 100 yard mark in his first four games.
The Tennessee defense also recorded seven bags. The Vols entered the day with just eight bags throughout the season to match Vanderbilt and Texas A&M; to the lowest total of any SEC team.
This allowed the Vols to overcome the loss of Maurer, who was beginning his second career.
The Vols led 7-3 when Maurer dived at the end of a 13-yard race and crashed headlong into the latter quarter. The freshman quarterback grabbed the back of the neck immediately after the move.
Maurer remained in the game for the rest of the series and eventually released an interception, but did not return later. He finished 4 out of 7 for 61 yards and threw two interceptions.
A week after losing his job as a Tennessee defender, Guarantano intervened for the injured Maurer and helped preserve the leadership.
Tennessee focused mainly on running the ball with Guarantano in the game. The Vols could afford to remain cautious in the attack because their defense was suffocating the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi state quarterback Tommy Stevens was hired in favor of Shrader after the transfer of Penn State graduates was 6 out of 11 by 67 yards and released two interceptions in the first half.
Shrader went 5 out of 10 for 79 yards with a touchdown and an intercept. He also ran for 62 yards on 13 loads.
Mississippi State: Bulldogs need to figure out their situation as a quarterback as they head for the hardest part of their programming. Three of his next four games are against No. 5 LSU, No. 24 Texas A&M; and No. 1 Alabama. The lack of a consistent pass game is starting to make Hill difficult, as opposing defenders know they can focus on trying to stop the race.
Tennessee: The good news for the Vols is that their defense seemed to come of age on Saturday and met the expectations that accompanied the arrival of former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as a coach. The bad news is that striker Henry To & # 39; To & # 39; o has received a goal penalty in the second half, meaning that one of the leading defenders of the Vols should miss the first half of their game next week. in first place in Alabama.
Mississippi State hosts No. 5 LSU on Saturday.
Tennessee visits # 1 Alabama on Saturday.
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