TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WJHL) – Despite an early double-digit lead on the road, the Vols conceded 27-unanswered points in a 34-20 loss to Alabama on Saturday evening.
The balanced offensive attack returned for Josh Heupel and No. 18 Tennessee in the first half. Quarterback Joe Milton III hooked up with Squirrel White for a 39-yard strike, putting the Big Orange up 7-0.
A Charles Campbell field goal stretched the lead to 10-0, before James Pearce Jr. strip-sacked Jalen Milroe, giving UT excellent field position. Tennessee managed another field goal for a 13-0 edge.
Alabama finally hung six points on the board when Milroe found Jermaine Burton for a ten-yard score in the second quarter. But, late in the half, a Milroe interception in the endzone gave the ball back to the visitors.
With time winding down, just 12 seconds in the half, Milton hit McCallan Castles in the flat for a six-yard passing score. The Vols had a commanding 20-7 advantage at half.
The second half, however, belonged to the Crimson Tide. Jase McClellan’s five-yard scamper late in the third quarter gave Alabama its first lead of the contest at 24-20.
A fourth-quarter field goal stretched the lead to seven, before the nail in the coffin – a Chris Braswell strip sack. Jihaad Campbell scooped it up and went 24 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown.
The Vols were held to just 33 rushing yards in the second half, as the Crimson Tide surged for 225 total yards in the final two quarters.
Milton’s numbers returned, as he completed 28-of-41 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Squirrel White hauled in ten balls for 111 yards and the touchdown. Milton was also the team’s leading rusher (59 yds), as Dylan Sampson, Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright combined for just 74 yards.
It was McClellan, the Alabama running back, that churned out the yards on Saturday night. He carried the ball 27 times for 115 yards and a score.
The Vols’ defensive front still managed impressive numbers, as four different players ended up with a sack. Jaylen McCullough also secured the lone Tennessee interception.
Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) faces another tough road test at Kentucky next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET.