Tennessee 35, NC State 21
Derek Dooley says he knows Tennessee fans are eager to grasp any sign that the Vols are ready to return to glory.
The coach said his team's opening win wasn't such a sign. It was just a good first step.
Cordarrelle Patterson scored two first-quarter touchdowns - one a 41-yard catch, the second a 67-yard run - and Tennessee beat North Carolina State 35-21 on Friday night in the opening game for both teams.
''It's one game,'' Dooley said. ''I already know you are going to say we were there, we're on our way. It's one game. It really doesn't mean anything other than we won the first game.''
Patterson helped make it a successful start to Dooley's third season, following a 5-7 finish in 2011, when the Vols were last in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division at 1-7.
Patterson, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who transferred from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, played like a star in his Tennessee debut. Patterson had six catches for 93 yards as the Vols won the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.
''He's got a chance to be one of the best in the league,'' Vols linebacker Dontavis Sapp said.
Dooley said Patterson has more to learn.
''I'm not sure he ran the right route,'' Dooley said of Patterson's touchdown catch.
Patterson called his first game ''just a great feeling'' before he seemed to confirm Dooley's review.
''I need to get the routes better and continue to learn the offense,'' Patterson said.
Patterson was a surprise to the Wolfpack.
''We didn't know a lot,'' N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. ''He obviously is a heck of a player.''
O'Brien said Patterson's height is especially difficult to defend when the Vols lined up 6-4 receiver Justin Hunter on the other side of the field.
''When you've got 6-foot-4 on either side and running like they do, that puts a lot of stress on a defense,'' O'Brien said.
Tennessee (1-0) scored 16 points on two touchdowns and a safety in a span of 38 seconds late in the first quarter.
Mike Glennon threw four interceptions with one touchdown for North Carolina State (0-1).
A 20-year-old man was taken to a hospital after falling approximately 35 feet from the upper level of the Georgia Dome.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operates the downtown football stadium, said in a statement that the man fell on another fan seated in the mezzanine area.
The fan who was hit while seated was taken to a hospital.
Wolfpack cornerback David Amerson, who led the nation and set an ACC record with 13 interceptions in 2011, was beaten for two long touchdown passes.
Amerson gave up the 41-yard pass from Tyler Bray to Patterson for the Vols' first touchdown and a 72-yard pass from Bray to Zach Rogers later in the first quarter.
''On the 72-yarder I thought I had help,'' Amerson said, adding he ''just didn't play well.''
Bray completed 27 of 41 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
''It just came down to too many big plays that we gave up on defense,'' O'Brien said. ''We turned the ball over too many times. ... We have to find a way to get ourselves back together, get our minds right and win a football game.''
Glennon was 27 of 46 for 288 yards.
''This is definitely a confidence-building win, especially with shutting down a great quarterback,'' Vols safety Brian Randolph said.
With N.C. State leading 7-6, Bray's long pass to Rogers started the Vols' scoring surge.
On the Wolfpack's first play after Rogers' touchdown, Glennon was moving back from the 19-yard line when he was hit by Curt Maggitt and fumbled out of the end zone for a safety.
On Tennessee's next play, Patterson ran 67 yards - first running left and then crossing the field to his right for his second touchdown.
The Wolfpack answered with a 67-yard drive capped by James Washington's 2-yard run. Washington hit the line, remained on his feet and bounced into the end zone for the only touchdown of the second quarter.
The Vols were denied a touchdown late in the first half when a review confirmed the officials' ruling that Bray fumbled when he reached the ball across the line while trying to score. N.C. State linebacker Rickey Dowdy recovered the fumble, despite the protests from Tennessee fans and players.
The Wolfpack tried to rally in the final quarter. Bryan Underwood made a leaping, 5-yard touchdown catch from Glennon, but the senior quarterback threw his third interception later in the quarter.
Parlardy added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Marlin Lane led the Vols with 75 yards rushing on nine carries. Neal was the workhorse with 22 carries for 53 yards.
Glennon's fourth interception came with 5 seconds left as he threw deep into the end zone.
Attendance was 55,529, about 17,000 below a sellout.