KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Eric Gray became the first Tennessee Vol since Josh Dobbs to record a rushing touchdown in four-straight games, and the first Vol since Alvin Kamara to record a rushing and receiving score in a game as the Vols pounded the dirt for 234 rushing yards and their second win of the season, defeating Mizzou 35-12.
Gray led the charge in the Vols ground game rushing for 105 yards on 16 attempts and a touchdown. Gray’s lone reception was a 13-yard touchdown. Ty Chandler added to Tennessee’s success in the ground game, recording 90 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Chandler also added 3 receptions for 13 yards.
Jarrett Guarantano went 14-of-23 for 190 yards and 1 TD, the signal-caller added 14 rushing yards on 10 attempts for 2 scores.
The Tigers won the toss and elected to differ. After the fair kick, the Vols opening drive began on Tennessee’s 25-yard line. Jarrett Guarantano methodically led the Vols downfield on a 75-yard drive that spanned 14 plays, the final of which was a 3-yard touchdown run by Ty Chandler – the lone score of the first half. The Vols twice converted on fourth and short on the drive, opting for a quarterback keeper both times.
The Vols went 2-for-6 on third-down conversions in the first quarter, but 3-for-3 on fourth down attempts.
Tennessee began the second quarter in the midst of a nine-play 65-yard drive. The ninth play of that drive was a 20-yard touchdown run by Eric Gray to give the Vols a 14-0 advantage – paired with the Brent Cimaglia PAT.
Like the Tigers did in their season opener against Alabama, Mizzou made a change at quarterback for the Tigers opening series of the second quarter putting in Connor Bazelak in place of Shawn Robinson. Behind Bazelak the Tigers offense found life, finding the scoreboard after a 27-yard field goal from Harrison Mevis.
Missouri would find the scoreboard, again off the foot of Mevis, in the second quarter. Mevis split the uprights on a 51-yard field goal, the first 50-yard field goal by a Missouri freshman since 1988, cutting the Vols advantage to 8.
Tennessee answered on the following drive. Ty Chandler put in work against the Tigers defense with three straight rushing attempts combining for 17 yards. The Vols then went to the sky as Jarrett Guarantano connected with true freshmen Jalin Hyatt for a second time in the game, before returning to Chandler for another three straight rushing attempts, this time combining for 27 yards and placing the Vols at the Missouri 13. Gray took it from there following Trey Smith into the endzone for his second score of the game, a 13-yard reception, Cimaglia’s PAT was good.
With that touchdown, Gray became the first Vol since Alvin Kamara did so in 2016 to have a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game.
Tennessee took a 21-6 advantage into the locker rooms.
The Vols drove down the field with ease on their opening possession of the second half, a 16-play 92 yard drive. The 15th play a 22-yard run from Gray that set the Vols up at the Missouri two-yard line, the 16th a two-yard quarterback keeper that ended with Jarrett Guarantano in the endzone and the Vols up 28-6 after Cimaglia’s PAT was good.
Missouri found the endzone for the first time on Saturday in the ensuing drive. After Connor Bazelak connected with Logan Christopherson for a 37-yard pickup placing the Tigers on the Tennessee 7-yard line. The Tigers converted on 4th and 1 and goal off a 1-yard Larry Roundtree III run. The two-point conversion attempt failed. Vols remained on top 28-12.
Bazelek and the Tigers looked poised to score again on their next possession – before Bazelek was intercepted by Theo Jackson in Tennessee territory. Jackson returned it 36-yards setting the Vols up at the Missouri 47.
After an impressive grab by Velus Jones Jr. set the Vols up at the Missouri 25, Tennessee went back to the ground on six of their next seven plays. The seventh, a one-yard quarterback keeper by Jarrett Guarantano on 4th and 1 for the Vols fourth rushing touchdown of the day. Cimaglia’s point-after attempt was good giving Tennessee their final score in the 35-12 final.
UP NEXT: Tennessee travels to Athens to face Georgia, the time of that game is still TBD it will be played at either 12:00 pm or 3:30 pm.