KNOXVILLE, TN-Tennessee out-gained 20th-ranked LSU, 287-281, but a pair of Vol turnovers and the Tigers’ strong rushing attack proved to be the difference in a 30-10 win for LSU on a damp Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.
With an announced crowd of 96,888 on hand despite gusting winds and heavy rain in the forecast, UT redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano shrugged off the elements to finish 13-of-23 for 239 yards and a touchdown. UT’s defense also showed some bright spots, limiting LSU to zero first downs in the opening quarter and seven by halftime as the Vols entered the break trailing 17-10.
The game’s first score was set up when Tennessee’s Marquez Callaway muffed a punt and the Tigers’ Russell Gage pounced on it at the UT 15. Unable to move the ball against a stingy Vol defense, LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal by Connor Culp to go on top, 3-0, with 6:38 to go in the opening period.
The Big Orange tied the game on its next possession. Aaron Medley put the finishing touches on a 14-play, 53-yard drive that took seven minutes and 35 seconds spanning the first and second quarters, drilling a 45-yard field goal through the teeth of a strong south wind with 13:59 remaining in the second quarter.
On the very next series, LSU was the beneficiary of another UT special teams miscue, as Michael Divinity Jr. recovered Callaway’s fumbled punt to set the Tigers up at the Vol 19. Three plays later, Darrel Williams carried it in from 10 yards out. Culp’s PAT made the score 10-3, LSU, with 11:31 remaining in the second period.
The Tigers, who had recorded only one first down in the game until this point, generated three on successive plays to extend their lead to 17-3 with 2:08 left before the half. Quarterback Danny Etling’s 16-yard keeper capped the quick 61-yard drive. Culp added the extra point.
The resilient Vols bounced right back with a four-play, 75-yard drive of their own. Guarantano found Callaway for a 46-yard touchdown pass with 1:23 to go in the half, and Medley added the PAT to pull UT within seven, 17-10.
A brief, but intense, rain and wind storm hit Neyland Stadium just as halftime was ending, and UT had the misfortune of fielding a kickoff and running its first series in that monsoon. After forcing the Vols to punt, LSU took over at the 50 and needed nine plays to tack another score on the board. This time it was running back Derrius Guice carrying it in from three yards out. Culp’s PAT was no good, leaving the score 23-10, LSU, with 7:26 left in the third quarter.
Williams added a six-yard TD run, and Culp tacked on the PAT with 2:06 to go in the third to account for the game’s final score.
The Vols return to action next Saturday afternoon, as they welcome Vanderbilt to Neyland Stadium. The game is slated for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network.
Courtesy: University of Tennessee Athletics