Vols Dominate Vandy

Tennessee took its domination over intrastate rival Vanderbilt to new heights Saturday, posting its 20th straight victory in the series and its second consecutive shutout.

The shutout marked the first time the Vols have blanked the Commodores in back-to-back games in 40 years and the 20 straight wins also sets a Tennessee record for consecutive victories against a single opponent.

The Vols put together an eight-play, 71-yard, scoring drive on their first series behind a surging offensive front and the power running of Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis. Houston, who went over the century mark for the fourth game in a row, 140 yards in 25 carries, highlighted the opening drive with a 36-yard carry. Davis put the finishing touch to Tennessee's fast start, scoring on a one-yard dive to pay dirt with 10:11 remaining the first quarter.

That would be all the scoring Tennessee (7-4, 4-3) needed to notch win No. 7 and to climb back over the .500 mark in league play with its third straight SEC vicrtory. However the Vols continued to dominate the contest, piling up 242 rushing yards in 50 carries while limiting Vandy to 196 total yards in 51 plays, 33 of those yards were gained by Matthew Tant who ran a punt fake from a short snap.

UT totaled 371 yards in the game, holding a decisive advantage in both first downs (22 to 11) and time of possession 36:49 to 23:11. Casey Clausen started at quarterback, after missing the Mississippi State contest last week, and completed 12-of-22 for 120 yards before giving way to James Banks in the fourth quarter.

The Vols second score came courtesy of the special teams. First Dustin Colquitt pinned Vanderbilt (2-10, 0-8) at its own 2 with a perfectly placed punt and after Tennessee's defense stonewalled the Dores on three straight plays. The Vols scored a safety when Vanderbilt's punter fumbled a snap and was forced to fall on the ball in the end zone. That put Tennessee up 9-0 with 1:24 left in the opening quarter.

On the ensuing possession, the Vols put together a 12-play, 54-yard scoring march that was climaxed by Houston's three-yard carry.

Vanderbilt kept Tennessee out of the end zone for the rest of the game but not off the scoreboard, as the Vols got three field goals from Alex Walls on kicks of 28, 33 and 38 yards. His second field goal came on Tennessee's opening drive of the second half which covered 66 yards in 17 plays, consuming 7:26 of the the third quarter clock. That put the Vols up 21-0 and essentially ended any comeback hopes the Commodores may have harbored.

Tennessee didn't commit any turnovers in the contest while forcing two - an interception by Mark Jones and a fumble recovery by linebacker Jason Mitchell. The Vols were only penalized five times for 38 yards while Vanderbilt was flagged nine time for 48 yards.

One of the most impressive components to Tennessee's victory was the fact the shutout was fashioned by a defense that was minus starters Rashad Moore, Willie Miles and Rashad Baker due to injuries. They joined four other Vol defensive starters Constantine Ritzmann, Kevin Burnett, Kevin Simon and Robert Peace who have been lost for the season with injuries.

Tennessee will conclude its regular season next week at home against Kentucky. The Vols are hoping that an eighth win will be good enough to land a New Year's Day spot in the Outback Bowl.


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