Recap: Brent Schaeffer was attempting to pass on Tennessee's third play of the game when he was hit and fumbled. UNLV recovered and scored on a 26-yard Sergio Aguayo field goal, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead. Schaeffer atoned on UT's second possession. After runs of 16 and 13 yards by Cedric Houston moved the ball to the Rebel 43-yard line, Schaeffer hit Derrick Tinsley for 10 yards, handed to Gerald Riggs for 12 yards, then raced 14 yards to the UNLV 5-yard line on a quarterback draw. Schaeffer scored on a nifty third-and-one scramble. James Wilhoit's PAT gave Tennessee a 7-3 lead. Dominique Dorsey returned Tennessee's ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Vol 33-yard line. Kurt Nantkes hit Earvin Johnson with a 24-yard completion on first down but Tennessee's defense stiffened and Aquayo missed a 37-yard field goal. Erik Ainge made his collegiate debut on Tennessee's third possession. Houston hit a gaping hole for 23 yards to midfield. Ainge hit C.J. Fayton for nine yards on a screen pass, then found Fayton again for a 43-yard touchdown. Wilhoit's PAT widened the gap to 14-3 with 48 seconds left in the quarter.
Key Play: On second-and-one at the UNLV 43-yard line, Ainge made a nice play fake, then found Fayton 10 yards behind the nearest defender along the West sidelines. Fayton scored with ease, boosting UT's lead to 14-3.
Key Player: Houston carried 7 times for 60 yards. He had runs of 16 and 13 yards on UT's first TD drive and added a 23-yard burst on the Vols' second touchdown march.
Key Stat: The Vols threw just five passes, completing three. Conversely, UT rushed the ball 16 times for 94 yards ... a pace that would produce 376 rushing yards if maintained for the entire game.
Recap: A 26-yard run by Dorsey helped UNLV move into Tennessee territory but Corey Campbell intercepted a Nantkes overthrow. Schaeffer scrambled 19 yards on the Vols' next possession, then hit Chris Hannon for 14 yards to the UNLV 45-yard line. Corey Larkins made a nifty 15-yard run, then a pass interference penalty in the end zone gave UT first-and-goal from the 2. Gerald Riggs scored on the very next play, widening the gap to 21-3 with 5:53 left in the quarter. Key Play: Larkins broke at least three tackles on his 15-yard run that moved the ball to the UNLV 30-yard line. The Vols scored four plays later. A 34-yard completion from Nantkes to Terry Furlow advanced the ball to Tennessee's 15-yard line but Jason Mitchell stuffed an end-around for a one-yard loss. Dorsey rambled for 11 yards moments later but was stripped by Brandon Johnson. Kevin Burnett recovered at the Vol 6-yard line to kill the scoring threat. UNLV held but Dustin Colquitt bailed out the Vols with a 61-yard punt a minute shy of halftime. Key Player: Colquitt. His two second-quarter punts covered 51 and 60 yards, keeping UNLV in poor field position for much of the quarter. Key Stat: Tennessee succeeded on 5 of 7 third-down conversions in the first half, UNLV just 1 of 5. In addition, the Vols kept the ball for 19:43 to UNLV's 10:17. If not for Dominique Dorsey (87 rushing yards and a 59-yard kickoff return), UNLV would be hopelessly outclassed. 3RD Quarter
Recap: Tennessee's second possession of the quarter produced a four-play, 83-yard touchdown march. After Schaeffer completed a 14-yard pass to Corey Anderson, a holding call left UT with first and 20. No problem. Schaeffer hit Tony Brown for a 24-yard, Riggs bolted 20 yards off right tackle, then Schaeffer found Robert Meachem open along the East sidelines, hitting him with a 35-yard TD pass that padded the score to 28-3 with 8:10 left in the quarter. Dyante Perkins rambled 23 yards and Nantkes hit Earvin Johnson for 21 yards to the Vol 16-yard line. Nantkes found Alvin Marshall for 13 yards, then Perkins squirted into the end zone from three yards out, closing the gap to 28-10 with 5:51 left in the period. Ainge responded quickly, hitting Jayson Swain for gains of 12 and 13 yards, then finding Chris Hannon for gains of 10 and 18. Jabari Davis rambled for 14 yards, and Ainge hit Bret Smith for 14 yards to the UNLV 5-yard line on the next-to-last play of the period.
Key Play: Meachem showed why he's one of the brightest receiving prospects in college football. Accelerating past a UNLV defensive back, he gathered in a perfect throw from Schaeffer and sped into the end zone on his 35-yard TD play. That score widened the gap to 28-3 and pretty well sealed the deal.
Key Player: Schaeffer. Though best known for his running, he completed 3 of 3 passes for 73 yards on Tennessee's touchdown drive.
Key Stat: Tennessee piled up 181 yards in the quarter ... 139 of it through the air. Ainge was 6 of 8 for 66 yards, Schaeffer 3 of 4 for 73 yards. 4TH Quarter
Recap: The final period began with a bang as Ainge lobbed a perfect strike to Tony Brown in the back-right corner of the South end zone on the first play, boosting Tennessee's lead to 35-10. Jonathan Hefney returned a punt 47 yards for an apparent touchdown but an illegal-block-in-the-back call nullified all but the first 23 yards of the return. The possession ended with a missed 44-yard field goal try by James Wilhoit. Key Play: Ainge's TD toss to Brown on a fade route was a thing of beauty, nicely executed and perfectly thrown. A pass interference call on Jonathan Wade helped set up a 17-yard TD run by Dorsey that helped UNLV close to 35-17 with 8:02 remaining but Tennessee answered on its next possession. Schaeffer hit tight end Brad Cottam with an 18-yard toss to open the drive. Riggs ran for gains of 3, 11, 7, 7, 9 and 2 yards. Corey Larkins then got the touchdown, skirting right end from 23 yards out to conclude the scoring.
Key Player: Riggs (6 carries, 39 yards) and Larkins (2 carries, 21 yards) kept Tennessee's offense clicking and kept UT's defense off the field for much of the final period.
Key Stat: Tennessee finished the game with 272 rushing yards and 241 passing yards ... 513 total yards. That's an amazing total for a team being led by two freshman QBs.