KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Joshua Dobbs threw a pair of 20-yard touchdown passes to Josh Malone and ran for a third score as No. 15 Tennessee overcame injuries and a suspension to hold off pesky Ohio 28-19 on Saturday.
Tennessee (3-0) played without four starters – three were injured and defensive back Malik Foreman was suspended for team rules violations. During the first half, the Volunteers (3-0) lost two players to injuries in the first half – cornerback Cam Sutton and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Tennessee scored 38 seconds into the game on the first TD pass from Dobbs to Malone. The Vols continued to lead the rest of the way, though Ohio stayed close throughout.
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Ohio, a 27-point underdog, was within 21-19 when Dobbs and Malone connected again with 11:07 left in the game. Ohio (1-2) wouldn't threaten again.
Malone has caught four of Dobbs' six touchdown passes this season.
Ohio's Louie Zervos was 4 of 4 on field-goal attempts and Sebastian Smith caught nine passes for 156 yards.
The Bobcats were seeking their second straight win over a Power Five opponent after winning 37-21 at Kansas last week.
Ohio: The Bobcats have never beaten a Top 25 team but had a real chance to pull off a history-making victory if they'd capitalized on opportunities. Ohio didn't recover any of Tennessee's five fumbles, and the Bobcats' offense continually settled for short field-goal attempts rather than reaching the end zone. The failure to finish drives has been a recurring problem for Ohio, as Zervos is 13 of 14 on field-goal attempts through the first three games of the season.
Tennessee: Injuries on defense and struggles on offense offer plenty of cause for concern as Tennessee prepares to enter Southeastern Conference competition. Tennessee shuffled its offensive line Saturday but continued to have trouble controlling the line of scrimmage against an Ohio defense that hadn't distinguished itself in its first two games.
Ohio hosts Football Championship program Gardner-Webb in its last game before opening Mid-American Conference play.
Tennessee hosts No. 23 Florida, which has beaten the Volunteers each of the last 11 seasons. This starts a stretch of four consecutive games against ranked teams. Tennessee visits No. 16 Georgia on Oct. 1 and No. 17 Texas A&M on Oct. 8 before hosting No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 15.
Online: AP College Football website www.collegefootball.ap.org