High-Octane Missouri Scorches Struggling Vols 50-17

Tigers Punish UT Defense For 659 Yards In Blowout

Saturday, November 11, 2017 - by Larry Fleming

Just when Tennessee ignited hopes of winning its first Southeastern Conference game this season, Missouri stripped the Vols’ optimism in less than a minute.

Tennessee, with a first-time freshman quarterback starting, overcame an ill-timed unsportsmanlike penalty on John Kelly and tied the game at 17-17 on a 19-yard Will McBride-to-Ethan Wolf touchdown pass with 75 seconds left in the first half.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Missouri needed just 57 seconds and five plays to march 75 yards to regain the lead at 24-17. Larry Rountree, one of two 100-yard rushers for the Tigers on the night, broke a broke a 64-yard run in the drive and scored from the 1.

After that, the Tigers kept on scoring almost at will and left Memorial Stadium with a 50-17 blowout victory over a struggling Tennessee that at time had four offensive linemen in front of McBride, a rookie from League City, Texas, starting for the injured Jarrett Guarantano.

“You have to stop the run and we didn’t stop the run,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “We had an opportunity to go in at halftime with the game tied 17-17. They’re trying to run the clock out and we give up a catastrophic run like that, which you cannot do.”

Tennessee (4-6, 0-6) has two remaining SEC games on the schedule, both at home. The Vols host LSU on Saturday with the kickoff set for 7 p.m. On Nov. 15, Vanderbilt comes to Knoxville.

LSU is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in league play after beating Arkansas 30-10.

The Vols have to win one of those games to avoid the first winless conference record in the program’s 121-year history. The only one-win marks came in 1951 (Bowden Wyatt), 1964 (Doug Dickey), 1977 (Johnny Majors) and 2011 and 2012 (Derek Dooley).

“For this team,” Jones said, “it’s how do you want to be remembered? How do you want to finish this off? These kids are playing hard. They’re prideful and understand what’s at stake. It’s about this team and these players. It ain’t about the coach. It ain’t about nothing else. We’ve got a great challenge Saturday against LSU, but it’s also a great opportunity.”

The 50 points are the most Tennessee has given up since allowing 55 against Auburn in November 2013, Jones’ first season in Knoxville. It marked the fourth time this season Tennessee has given up at least 40 points.

Missouri’s offense riddled the Vols with six touchdowns. A quick glance at previous games shows that Tennessee has scored six offensive touchdowns in six conference games this season.

The points-allowed weren’t the only embarrassing numbers the Vols relinquished.

Missouri (5-5, 2-4) punished the Tennessee defense for a whopping 659 yards of total offense, including a stunning 433 yards on the ground against a unit ranked 122nd nationally rushing defense. The country’s No. 3 pass defense when the game started that usually gives up 150 yards per game, yielded 226 yards and four Drew Lock touchdowns.

A year ago in Knoxville, the Tigers amassed 740 yards of offense in a 63-37 loss.

On Saturday at Memorial Stadium in front of 50,637 fans, Ish Witter ran for 216 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown. Rountree ran 18 times for 155 yards. Witter had a 52-yard run, Rountree turned in a 64-yarder.

In that 2016 game in Neyland Stadium, Tigers freshman Damarea Crockett rushed for school-record 225 yards on 24 carries and Witter added 163 as Missouri ran 110 plays. A year later, Tigers ran just 83 plays.

Missouri has gained 1,399 yards in the last two games against the Vols and with the most recent win tied the short series 3-3. The Vols had won the previous two meetings.

McBride was 16 for 32 for 139 yards with a touchdown, two picks and five sacks. He was also the Vols’ leading rusher with 63 yards on 14 carries.  

John Kelly, Tennessee’s leading rusher on the season, was ineffective with only 17 yards on nine tries.

The Vols finished with 285 total yards, 146 rushing, and were 4 for 14 on third down conversions.

Lock was 13 for 28 for 217 yards and four touchdowns. Emanuel Hall, who is from Franklin, Tennessee, caught five passes for 102 yards and two scores.

In the game-tying drive, a McBride-to-Brandon Johnson pass play moved the Vols to Missouri’s 4. On first down, Kelly was stopped for no gain, but mouthed off to an official and was slapped with a 15-yard penalty back to the 19.

After an incompletion, McBride dropped back and was face-to-face with 6-foot-4, 290-pound Terry Beckner, who hit the signal caller in the chest as he threw the ball toward the end zone. McBride wound up on his back, but the pass found Wolf all alone in the end zone for the TD.

“I thought Will did some good things,” Jones said. “He displayed grit standing there in the pocket and took a shot and still put the ball right where it needed to be.”

Jones said the decision to start McBride was reached during the week of practice. Guarantano couldn’t practice much and spent overtime in the training room to be ready to play in an emergency situation.

Despite the double-digit underdog Vols battling courageously, the Tigers (5-5, 2-4) delivered a knockout punch with their impressive drive that culminated with them retaking the lead.

Lock later connected with Moore on a 50-yard TD bomb that stretched the Tigers’ lead to 31-17.

About six minutes later, Lock hit J’Mon Moore with a 23-yard scoring toss and Tennessee, a Top 10 team just last season, was down 38-17 and all it had in mind was having to  endure the long trip back to Knoxville.

McBride threw back-to-back interceptions and Tucker McCann converted the opportunities into 23- and 38-yard field goals and a comfortable 44-17 lead.

In a three-play stretch, the Vols committed three turnovers – two interceptions and a lost fumble.

However, Missouri wasn’t finished.

Lock capped a short 45-yard drive with his fourth touchdown pass – that gave him a FBS-leading 36 on the season – to Johnat Johnson covering 20 yards. That gave Missouri 33 straight points after the Vols tied the score.

In a show of mercy, Missouri had the ball at Tennessee’s 1 and took a knee as time expired.

Missouri went 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the SEC last season. The Tigers won their 2017 opener and lost five straight games. With the rout of Tennessee, Mizzou extended its winning streak to four games.

Micah Abernathy had 13 tackles, including 11 solos, and Quart’e Sapp was credited with 10.

Conversely, Tennessee has lost five of six, including five conference games. The only victory came last week against Southern Miss.

An interesting tidbit, tweeted after Saturday’s game by Wes Rucker in Knoxville, compares how the two teams have gotten the best out of recruiting classes from 2014-17.

Missouri – No. 37, No. 25, No.43, No. 43.

Tennessee – No. 7, No. 4, No. 14, No. 17.

Which direction is Missouri’s program headed? Now, ask the same of the Vols.


Tennessee                10 7 0 0 – 17

Missouri                   14 10 17 9 – 50

First Quarter

MIZZ – Ish Witter 7 run (Tucker McCann kick), 9:15

TENN – Nigel Warrior 70 interception return (Aaron Medley kick), 7:19

MIZZ – Emanuel Hall 31 pass from Drew Lock (McCann kick), 4:52

TENN – FG Medley 48, 1:17

Second Quarter

MIZZ – FG McCann 41, 7:25

TENN – Ethan Wolf 19 pass from Will McBride (Medley kick), 1:15

MIZZ – Larry Rountree 1 run (McCann kick), 0:18

Third Quarter

MIZZ – Hall 50 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 10:56

MIZZ – J’Mon Moore 23 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 4:34

MIZZ – FG McCann 23, 2:48

Fourth Quarter

MIZZ – FG McCann 38, 14:32

MIZZ – Johnat Johnson 20 pass from Lock (kick failed), 13:21

Attendance: 50,637


                                              TENN              MIZZ

First Downs                           16                    29

Rushes-Yds                           36-146            53-433

Passing Yards                      139                 226

Comp-Att-Yds                       16-32-2          14-30-1

Plays-Tot Yds                        68-285            83-659

Fumbles-Lost                        2-2                  0-0

Punts-Avg                              7-45.1             4-49.5

Penalties-Yds                        4-36                7-60


RUSHING – Tennessee: Will McBride 14-63, Ty Chandler 8-33, Carlin Fils-Aime 3-31, John Kelly 9-17, Tim Jordan 1-5, Team 1-minus 3; Missouri: Ish Witter 24-216, Larry Rountree 18-156, Micah Wilson 5-39, Dawson Downing 4-22, Drew Lock 1-3, Team 1-minus 2.

PASSING – Tennessee: McBride 16-32-2-139; Missouri: Lock 13-28-1-217, Wilson 1-2-0-9.

RECEIVING – Tennessee: Brandon Johnson 3-45, Ethan Wolf 3-45, Eli Wolf 1-19, Kelly 6-13, Chandler 1-7, Jeff George 1-5, Josh Palmer 1-5; Missouri: Emanuel Hall 5-102, Johnat Johnson 2-41, J’Mon Moore 3-39, Rountree 1-19, Domini Collins 1-9, Witter 1-9, Richaud Floyd 1-7.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)

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