Quarter by Quarter

Here's a quarter-by-quarter look at Tennessee's 38-7 annihilation of Texas A&M in Saturday's Cotton Bowl game.


RECAP: Tennessee took the opening drive 80 plays in six yards to grab a 7-0 lead. The big play was a short toss from Rick Clausen to C.J. Fayton, that Fayton turned into a 57-yard touchdown play with a nifty cutback and a burst of speed. Tennessee's second possession ended with a missed 42-yard field goal by James Wilhoit but the Vols got back on the scoreboard moments later. Justin Harrell blasted A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal, causing a fumble that Corey Campbell recovered at the Aggie 28-yard line. After an incompletion, Clausen hit Fayton for 12 yards, Jayson Swain for 5, then Cory Anderson with an 11-yard TD strike as the lead swelled to 14-0 with 3:52 left in the initial period.

KEY PLAY: Harrell's big hit on McNeal caused him to lose his helmet and the football. It may have caused him to lose his poise, as well, because the A&M quarterback wasn't much of a factor the rest of the half. Regardless, the Vols scored four plays later, and the rout was on.

KEY PLAYER: Clausen. Razor-sharp with his throws, the junior quarterback completed 10 of 14 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the quarter.

KEY STAT: Tennessee piled up 187 yards of total offense in the period, A&M just 49.


RECAP: A muffed punt by A&M's Eric Mays was recovered by Corey Larkins at the Aggie 8-yard line. On the very next play Cedric Houston made a great cutback on a play that started at right tackle and scooted into the left corner of the end zone. Wilhoit's PAT gave Tennessee a 21-0 lead after just 17 minutes of play. The Vols weren't done, though. On their next possession, Gerald Riggs rambled 15 yards, then Clausen hit Chris Hannon for 17 more. A 17-yard run by Anderson moved the ball to the 13-yard line, then Clausen hit Tony Brown for a touchdown that widened the gap to 28-0 with 8:54 left to intermission. At this point, Tennessee had 257 yards of total offense to A&M's 62.

KEY PLAY: Larkins' recovery of Mays' muff. When the Vols struck on the very next play to go up 14-0, the Aggies lost their swagger and their fans lost their enthusiasm.

KEY PLAYER: Anderson. He had a 17-yard run, an 11-yard catch and several monster blocks on runs by Riggs and Houston.

KEY STAT: Tennessee's defense limited McNeal to six carries for 2 yards in the first half. All told, A&M had just 3 rushing yards at the break.


RECAP: Texas A&M drove to a fourth-and-one at Tennessee's 6-yard line but McNeal was stopped for no gain by Jason Mitchell, and the Vols took over on downs. Spurred by the big defensive play, Tennessee marched 94 yards in 12 plays to go up 35-0. After six running plays, Clausen hit Robert Meachem for five yards (wht a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty), then hit Meachem again for 19 yards. A blatant pass interference call against A&M moved the ball to the Aggies' 13-yard line. Riggs took it from there, gaining four yards on first down, then bouncing outside for nine yards and a TD that boosted the bulge to 35-0 with 6:04 left in the quarter. Tennessee's defense forced a punt, and the Vol attack moved downfield for a 37-yard Wilhoit field goal that widened the gap to 38-0 with 2:36 to go in the quarter. The big play on the drive was a 17-yard run by Riggs. Moments later, McNeal completed a 23-yard pass to Terrence Murphy but a strip by Jason Allen forced a fumble that Jason Mitchell recovered at the Vol 7-yard line.

KEY PLAY: Jason Mitchell's fourth-down stop of McNeal. With McNeal rolling to his right, Mitchell showed great speed in coming from the backside to collar him from behind. That play killed any comeback hopes the Aggies might have entertained. When UT scored on the ensuing possession, the game was over.

KEY PLAYER: Riggs. He had eight carries for 47 yards and a touchdown in the quarter as Tennessee's offensive line began to dominate the tiring Aggie defense.

KEY STAT: Through the first three quarters, Clausen had completed 17 of 25 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Tennessee also had 272 rushing yards, giving the Vols 399 total yards.


RECAP: With an insurmountable lead, Tennessee went with a clock-eating ground game in the final quarter and did not score again. A&M finally mounted a scoring drive against Vol second-team defenders -- going 69 yards in 10 plays, aided considerably by two dumb penalties on Tennessee. The first was a 15-yard late-hit call against Jason Allen, the second a 10-yard roughing-the-passer call against Jesse Mahelona. McNeal hit Irvin Taylor with a five-yard pass for the score, narrowing the gap to 38-7 with 5:13 to go. A&M got the ball back with 2:30 to play but freshman linebacker Ryan Karl intercepted a McNeal pass and returned it to the Aggie 15-yard line. Tennessee ran out the clock from there, ending the game with a first-and-goal at the A&M 3-yard line.

KEY PLAY: There wasn't one. This game was over after three quarters.

KEY PLAYER: David Yancey. The former Vol walk-on carried 11 times for 57 yards, a commendable average of 5.2 yards per attempt, as Tennessee killed the clock in the final period.

KEY STAT: A Texas A&M team that committed just eight turnovers all year -- ranking fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-14 -- lost five in this game (four fumbles and an interception). The Vols, conversely, did not commit a turnover.

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