Chandler's Long Kickoff Return Sparks Vols To 42-7 Win

Vols Outclass FCS Indiana State Before Crowd Of 99,015

Saturday, September 9, 2017 - by Larry Fleming
Tennessee's Ty Chandler, a freshman from Nashville, Tennessee, finishes off his game-opening 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown jus 14 seconds into the Vols' 42-7 victory against Indiana State on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee's Ty Chandler, a freshman from Nashville, Tennessee, finishes off his game-opening 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown jus 14 seconds into the Vols' 42-7 victory against Indiana State on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
- photo by Dennis Norwood

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Boom!

On a crystal clear, sunny Saturday at Neyland Stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River, freshman Ty Chandler scored on a 91-yard game-opening kickoff return and the Vols marched to a resounding 42-7 victory over outmatched FCS Indiana State before a crowd of 99,015.

“That’s awesome for a young guy to step up and replace Evan (Berry), obviously a very good kick returner,” Vols quarterback Quinten Dormady said.

“Then, Ty, to take the opening kickoff back, definitely gave us a spark on the sideline.”

Chandler darted right at the gut of the Sycamores’ kickoff coverage unit, turned to the outside and outran everyone to the end zone before the fans even had a chance to sit down. The play took a mere 14 seconds and the Vols never trailed against overmatched Indiana State.

“We saw that all preseason camp,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “We were excited to get him back there, and you can see he’s very dynamic. He can hit it and has very good speed.”

It was Tennessee’s 11th punt or kickoff return for a TD in the Jones era. Also, it hadn’t been done since Berry zipped 96 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas on Oct. 3, 2015.

The play was a blow to the Sycamores, who were playing Tennessee for the first time.

“That’s not the way we wanted to start the game,” Sycamores coach Curt Mallory said. “They obviously have a great returner (Berry), who wasn’t out there, so we decided to kick it to the true freshman and he returned it for a touchdown.”

The Vols (2-0) parlayed Chandler’s electric gallop to gloryland into a commanding 28-0 halftime lead against the FCS Sycamores, who in preseason were picked to finish last in the 10-team Missouri Valley Football Conference and were 4-7 in 2016.

Running back Carlin Fils-aime, a sophomore from Naples, Florida, was concerned about family back home with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the state’s west coast when the game started, scored twice on runs of 4 and 30 yards in the first half. He finished with 41 yards on three carries.

“Coach pulled me aside and spoke to as many people as he could who has family from Florida,” Fils-aime said. ‘There’s not much I can do personally. All I can do is worry about now, and we’ll pray and hope for the best.’ They tried contacting our families to help in any way they can, and I’m very thankful for that.”

In addition to scoring twice, Fils-aime made a block that led to a teammate’s score.

“It felt good,” he said. “I’m going to try and never let anything bring me down, and in any way I can help. My goal this year is to never let a sack happen when I’m in (the game).”

Dormady, who followed up a solid effort in the Vols’ 42-41 double-overtime win over Georgia Tech on Monday with another good performance while sharing duties with back-up Jarrett Guarantano, was 13 for 18 for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

Dormady, making his second collegiate start, connected with slot receiver Brandon Johnson on a 19-yard TD play with less than a minute left in the second quarter as Tennessee opened a four-score lead.

“I’ve never done it (slot) before, but I felt prepared,” said Johnson, who had four catches for 50 yards. “I’ve been working a long time and for something like this to happen is a dream come true. I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again.”

The next opportunity is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Florida (3:30 p.m. CBS), depending on whether Hurricanes Irma and Josie take a break from battering the state in the coming days.

As of Saturday, Jones said Tennessee has not been in touch with Florida officials about weather questions.

But he has contacted “all of our Florida families.”

“We are going to help them and do everything we possibly can to assist them and their personal needs,” the coach said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s getting them out of Florida, but most of them are here in town. They are in our thoughts and prayers along with everyone else in the state of Florida.”

The Gators cancelled their scheduled game against Northern Colorado on Saturday because of the hurricane threat from Irma.

Dormady’s second TD pass went to sophomore Marquez Callaway open in the third quarter. Callaway made the catch, spun free of a defender and raced to the end zone to give the Vols a 35-0 advantage. It was his only reception of the game.

Guarantano, who was criticized during the televised Georgia Tech game for an apparent lack of enthusiasm on the sideline while Dormady went the distance in the come-from-behind victory, made his Tennessee debut on the third series of the game.

Dormady eventually returned to the lineup and Guarantano, a highly touted redshirt freshman from Lodi, New Jersey, got back on the field late. He fired an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jeff George with 56 seconds left to cap the scoring.

“I told him to be ready,” Jones said of Guarantano. “I thought he had a very good week of preparation. I liked his mindset and was impressed with the things that we saw from both quarterbacks.”

Starter John Kelly, who had four rushing TDs against Tech, had another productive game, but just didn’t find the end zone. Kelly rushed for 80 yards and caught five passes for another 50.

Tennessee’s offense put up 395 yards, including 235 passing and 160 rushing

Indiana State quarterback Cade Sparks passed was 8 for 17 for 70 yards and a 23 touchdown pass to Jacquet McClendon in the third quarter. LeMonte Booker caught 15 passes for 76 yards.

The Sycamores rushed for 128 yards, far less than Georgia Tech’s 535 on Monday, which were the most a Vols’ defense has ever allowed.

However, the Vols’ defense stymied drive after drive with clutch plays and they left the Sycamores 0-for-11 on third-down conversions.

“I thought one of the keys to the game was third-down defense and being able to get off the field,” Jones said.

Said defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie on the third-down stops: “That is good to hear. You don’t always know stats like that during the game. But you can always improve. We want to keep improving week-by-week.”

Notes: Legendary UT athletic department employee Gus Manning, 94, had a streak attending Vol home football games end at 457 and 71 home openers Saturday. Manning is dealing with health issues. ... Hamilton Heights basketball standout Jason Jitoboh (6-foot-11, 2019) visited the UT campus Saturday. He has been offered by the Vols, among others.

SCORING

Indiana State              0 0 7 0 – 7

Tennessee                14 14 7 7 – 42

First Quarter

UT – Ty Chandler 91 kickoff return (Aaron Medley kick), 14:46

UT – Carlin Fils-aime 4 run (Medley kick), 2:49

Second Quarter

UT – Fils-aime 30 run (Medley kick), 9:03

UT – Brandon Johnson 19 pass from Dormady (Medley kick), 0:53

Third Quarter

IS – Jacquet McClendon 23 pass from Cade Sparks (Jerry Nunez kick), 10:07

UT – Marquez Callaway 37 pass from Dormady (Medley kick), 2:12

Fourth Quarter

UT – Jeff George 11 pass from Jarrett Guarantano (Medley kick), 0:56

Attendance: 99,015

YARDSTICK

                                               IS                    UT

First Downs                           13                    24

Rushes-Yds                          38-122            37-160

Passing Yards                      93                    235      

Comp-Att-Int                         9-19-0             17-30-1

Total Plys-Yds                       57-215            67-395

Fumbles-Lost                        1-0                  2-1

Punts-Avg                              8-44.8             4-47.8

Penalties-Yds                        5-45                6-53

INDIVIDUALS

RUSHING – Indiana State: LeMonte Booker 15-76, Jaquan Keys 10-30, Bob Pugh 5-24, Rontrez Morgan 2-3, Cade Sparks 2-3, Jacquet McClendon 1-2, Titus McCoy 2-minus 6, Isaac Harker 1-minus 10; Tennessee: John Kelly 18-80, Carlin Fils-Aime 3-41, Tim Jordan 4-22, Ty Chandler 4-14, Trey Coleman 4-9, Jarrett Guarantano 2-6, Quinten Dormady 2-minus 12.

PASSING – Indiana State: Sparks 8-17-0-70, Isaac Harker 1-2-0-23; Tennessee: Dormady 13-18-1-194, Guarantano 4-12-0-41.

RECEIVING – Indiana State: McClendon 5-63, Keys 1-13, Booker 1-10, Michael Thomas 1-7, Dante Jones 1-0; Tennessee: Kelly 5-60, Brandon Johnson 4-50, Jeff George 2-28, Marquez Callaway 1-37, Josh Palmer 1-18, Eli Wolf 1-17, Jakob Johnson 1-13, Jordan 1-9, Coleman 1-3.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryflemin44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)

Sophomore running back Carlin Fils-aime powers through an Indiana State defender to score the first of his two touchdowns at Neyland Stadium. The Vols won 42-7
Sophomore running back Carlin Fils-aime powers through an Indiana State defender to score the first of his two touchdowns at Neyland Stadium. The Vols won 42-7
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood


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