TUSCALOOSA, AL- Tennessee’s defense had its first interception returned for a touchdown of the season, but the Volunteers fell to No. 1 Alabama, 45-7, on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Today’s “Third Saturday of October” matchup marked the 100th meeting between the two programs. Dating back to 1901, Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) holds a 38-55-7 all-time record against Alabama (7-0, 5-0), including a 4-9 record in Tuscaloosa and an 18-30-6 record overall on the road.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 9 of 16 passes for 44 yards and threw one interception, while junior running back John Kelly rushed for 63 yards on 12 carrries (5.3 average).
Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts finished 13-of-21 for 198 yards and one touchdown. Tua Tagovailoa entered in the third quarter and finished 9-of-12 for 134 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tagovailoa also rushed for a touchdown.
Alabama wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as the Crimson Tide went 63 yards down the field in 12 plays on its opening drive to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Tennessee’s defense forced a three-and-out on Alabama’s opening drive of the second quarter. The Vols got off five plays for 23 yards before redshirt senior punter Trevor Daniel booted the ball 47 yards to the UA15.
The Tide then added 14 points to the board in the second as junior running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris each rushed for a touchdown.
Alabama extended its lead to 28-0 in the third when Hurts completed a pass to Irv Smith Jr. for a 14-yard score.
With six minutes left in the third quarter, sophomore linebacker Daniel Bituli intercepted Tagovailoa’s pass over the middle and returned it 97 yards to the end zone. Freshman kicker Brent Cimaglia then made the first PAT of his career, cutting the Crimson Tide’s lead to 28-7. Bituli is the first Alabama opposing player to have a pick-six since 2015.
Tennessee’s defense held Alabama to a field goal to close the third, but the Tide went 77 yards on seven plays in its next possession to take a 38-7 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Daniel punted 60 yards to the UA15 where redshirt junior defensive back D.J. Henderson punched the ball loose at the UA19, forcing the first fumble of his Tennessee career. Redshirt junior defensive back Rashaan Gaulden recovered the ball at the 20-yard line.
Alabama scored the final touchdown of the game with five minutes on the clock.
The Vols head to Lexington, Kentucky, next Saturday to face the Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SEC Network.
Courtesy: University of Tennessee Athletics