Tennessee 55, Troy 48
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
Marlin Lane rushed for a tiebreaking 9-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining Saturday as Tennessee rallied to edge Troy 55-48 in a game that featured 1,439 combined yards in total offense, the most ever in a Tennessee football game.
Tennessee (4-5) gained 718 yards in total offense, the most in school history. Troy compiled 721 yards, the most ever by a Tennessee opponent. The previous record for combined total yards in a Tennessee game was 1,329, set in Tennessee's 59-31 victory over Kentucky in 1997.
Justin Hunter caught nine passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder that tied the game with 2:54 remaining. Hunter's third touchdown came just 20 seconds after Eric Thomas had put Troy ahead with a 67-yard reception, his second touchdown of the day.
Tennessee's Tyler Bray went 29-of-47 for 530 yards and five touchdowns, setting career highs in the latter two categories. Cordarrelle Patterson caught nine passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. Deon Anthony threw two touchdown passes and Shawn Southward ran for two scores for Troy (4-5).
The come-from-behind victory allowed Tennessee to avoid its first five-game losing streak since 1988, when it lost its first six games before closing the season with five straight wins.
Troy had legitimate upset hopes because Tennessee's beleaguered defense hit bottom.
Bray threw for 313 yards in the first half alone. Hunter and Patterson each had over 100 yards receiving by halftime. Patterson continually turned relatively short completions into long gains with an array of moves usually seen more often in a video game than on a football field.
Yet the Vols still trailed late in the fourth quarter because its defense couldn't slow down Troy, a team that had lost to lowly Florida Atlantic a week earlier. Before Saturday, Troy had never scored more than 34 points against a Southeastern Conference foe. The Trojans nearly reached that total in the first 30 minutes.
Tennessee reached the end zone on its first four possessions, led 28-10 early in the second quarter and seemed on its way to a blowout victory until Troy scored 20 straight points late in the first half. Troy's 20 second-quarter points were its most in a quarter since the 2010 New Orleans Bowl.
Michael Palardy made a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the half and a 31-yarder early in the third quarter to put Tennessee ahead 34-30, but Troy regained the lead on Anthony's 3-yard pass to Thomas with 7:31 left in the third quarter.
It was the first time since 2008 that Troy has reached the end zone on four consecutive drives.
Will Scott added a 42-yard field goal on the Trojans' next possession after Tennessee wasted a scoring opportunity when replays showed Pig Howard lost a fumble before going down at the Troy 4.
Bray put Tennessee back ahead early in the fourth quarter with his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a 23-yarder down the left sideline to Rajion Neal, who had missed the Vols' last two games with an ankle injury.
Tennessee blew a chance to extend its lead when Vincent Dallas dropped a pass in the end zone with less than five minutes remaining. That missed opportunity set up the late drama in a game full of fireworks.