Tennessee hands rival Vanderbilt season-ending loss, 45-21

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —

Hendon Hooker threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 75 yards to lead Tennessee to a 45-21 season-ending Southeastern Conference victory over Vanderbilt Saturday.

Jabari Small rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns as the Volunteers (7-5, 4-4) grabbed bragging rights over their intrastate rival Commodores (2-10, 0-8).

Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman caught six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns,

After taking a hit on an option play, Hooker left the game with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter holding his left hand. He was replaced by Joe Milton.

The Vols and their high-octane offense had their six scoring drives total 11 minutes, 26 seconds time of possession.

Commodores quarterback Mike Wright collected 198 passing yards and a TD. Rocko Griffin rushed for 104 yards and a score.

Vanderbilt waited until the last play of the first half for its only highlight. Down 24-0, Wright heaved a desperation pass 56 yards and, with three Vols around him, Will Sheppard hauled it in in the end zone.

Defensive back Theo Jackson scored Tennessee’s first touchdown with a 45-yard interception return.

ODDS & ENDS

Tennessee right tackle Cade Mays missed the game with an injury to his left foot…Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker has now thrown a touchdown pass in 11 straight games, tying Erik Ainge (2004-05) and Peyton Manning (1996) for fourth place all-time…The Vols had a two-play 33-second scoring drive, their quickest march of the season.

ON THE MOVE

After a strong start to his season, Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans went down with an injury. He missed the Vols’ last four games. Friday the junior entered the transfer portal. After two seasons at Hutchinson Community College, Evans enrolled at Tennessee in January, 2021. He played in seven games, starting two. He collected 525 yards and six touchdowns. The last game he played was against Kentucky.

TAKEAWAYS

Vanderbilt: In a battle of first-year SEC coaches, Tennessee’s Josh Heupel has made more progress toward getting his program headed in the right direction than Clark Lea of Vanderbilt. The Commodores have youth on both sides of the ball, forming a foundation on which to build.

Tennessee: In the final two weeks of the season, against opponents that are significant underdogs, Heupel stressed to his team that it must maintain the high intensity level. Convincing victories showed that the Vols were listening.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt: The Commodores have paradise in their future — though it might be the distant future. Vanderbilt’s next competition will be Aug. 27, 2022 against Hawaii in Honolulu.

Tennessee: The Vols’ next game is up in the air. They will be part of the SEC’s bowl schedule that will be determined at a later date.

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