NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Volunteers dropped their final game of the regular season to Vanderbilt, 38-13, Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.
After trading punts to start the game, the Commodores (6-6, 3-5 SEC) took a 17-0 lead heading into the half. Tennessee (5-7, 2-6 SEC) fought back to pull within 10 points in the third thanks to sophomore running back Ty Chandler, but Vanderbilt outscored the Vols 21-6 in the final quarter.
“This is my first year here and we did really good the first couple weeks of the season,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “Today we didn’t execute very well defensively. You have to give Vanderbilt credit and we have to tackle the guys. We have to play football.”
Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw for 367 yards (31-of-35) and three touchdowns while Khari Blasingame rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown.
UT redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 13-of-29 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and an interception. On the ground, Chandler rushed for 88 yards and one touchdown on seven carries while junior wide receiver Marquez Callaway recorded 36 receiving yards and a score.
Chandler gave Tennessee a boost in the third quarter, opening the gates with a 75-yard rushing touchdown. It was his seventh TD overall this season and fourth on the ground. The Nashville native became the first Vol since 2006 to record two runs of 75 yards or more in a season with the play.
VU scored first in the rivalry matchup as Shurmur connected with Jared Pinkney on a 17-yard pass to the left side of the end zone in the Dores’ second drive of the game. The 11-play, 84-yard series ate up 7:04 on the clock.
Shurmur marched the Commodores down the field again to start the second quarter, putting together a 10-play, 66-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard Kalija Lipscomb rushing touchdown.
Tennessee went on a nine-play sequence that included a pass of 10 yards to sophomore wide receiver Josh Palmer after the score but was ultimately forced to punt after falling short of a first down by three yards at the VU47.
Heading into halftime, UT limited Vanderbilt to just a field goal. The Dores had advanced 44 yards on nine plays before an eight-yard sack by redshirt junior linebacker Darrell Taylor stopped them in their tracks. Ryley Guay’s 43-yard attempt was good, giving Vandy a 17-0 lead before the break.
On the first play of the third quarter, Chandler put the Vols on the board with a 75-yard rushing touchdown. The sophomore running back took the hand-off and found his way to the outside, traveling 75 yards down the right sideline into the end zone in 12 seconds. Sophomore kicker Brent Cimaglia then made the PAT to trim Vandy’s lead, 17-7.
UT held Vanderbilt scoreless on the ensuing drive despite the Commodores tallying three plays inside the Vols’ 10-yard line and a field goal attempt. Guay’s 20-yard kick bounced off the right upright and gave Tennessee the ball at its own 20.
The Vols were unable to capitalize and took the 17-7 score into the fourth.
Shurmur opened the final quarter with a passing touchdown for VU, completing a 26-yard pass to Amir Abdur-Rahman before Blasingame ran the ball in for a one-yard touchdown two drives later.
Tennessee answered with a score of its own, using just 31 seconds to move 75 yards down the field. Guarantano connected with redshirt junior wide receiver Jauan Jennings for 43 yards and a roughing the passer penalty put the ball on the VU17. Guarantano then found Callaway for 17 yards to make it a 31-13 ballgame. UT attempted a two-point conversion, but Jennings was stopped short of the goal line.
Vanderbilt scored the last touchdown of the game with 2:33 remaining. The Commodores advanced 49 yards on 10 plays and scored on a two-yard pass from Shurmur to Cody Markel for the 38-13 final.
Defensively,senior defensive back Micah Abernathy and junior linebacker Daniel Bituli led the Vols with nine tackles apiece. Junior defensive back Nigel Warrior added eight.