Tennessee football got its first win of the Jeremy Pruitt era Saturday. The Volunteers destroyed the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers 59-3.
For the second straight week, Tennessee football had a game delayed due to weather. And for the second straight week, the delay was followed by a blowout. This time, however, the blowout was in favor of the Vols, as they won their opener at Neyland Stadium for 2018 59-3.
Jeremy Pruitt got his first win as a head coach against his former counterpart, ETSU head coach Randy Sanders. The two were coordinators on the 2013 national championship Florida State Seminoles. Sanders got his first win as a head coach the previous week with the Bucs.
Jarrett Guarantano started his second straight game for Tennessee football, and after the defense got a stop on the opening drive, he led the Vols on a field goal drive to get them a 3-0 lead. However, the offense took a while to get going.
The Vols built a 10-0 lead after a punt blocked by Marquill Osborne and returned for a touchdown. They took that lead into a 48-minute weather delay, but in the second half, the defense continued to be what built the lead on Rocky Top.
After an 82-yard drive capped off by a Jeremy Banks touchdown run, Bryce Thompson intercepted a Logan Marchi pass and returned it to the ETSU 3 to set up another touchdown. The result of those two drives was a 24-0 lead for the Vols. Then Darrin Kirkland Jr. caught a tipped pass and ran it back for a touchdown to build a 31-0 lead.
So Tennessee football went up 31-0 with 21 points due to defense. They had a 69-yard drive led by Keller Chryst and capped off by a 20-yard touchdown run from Josh Palmer to go into halftime with a 38-0 lead over the Bucs.
Guarantano hit Marquez Callaway for a 12-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 75-yard drive to open the second half and build a 45-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, Chryst extended the lead with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Murphy. Then the Vols recovered a muffed punt and finished a 19-yard drive with a four-yard Madre London touchdown run.
With the win, UT moves to 1-1 on the year ahead of their match-up with the UTEP Miners. ETSU fell to 1-1 on the year. Those records are also the same records that Pruitt and Sanders, both of whom were hired at UT by Phillip Fulmer in different capacities, have as head coaches.
For the game, Guarantano completed 8-of-13 passes for 154 yards. Meanwhile, Chryst completed 3-of-3 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Neither threw an interception.
Tim Jordan led the team in rushing with 15 carries for 65 yards, but Jeremy Banks added 13 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Madre London also had two touchdowns with 47 yards on eight carries. Then there was Palmer’s 20-yard touchdown run.
Callaway led the team in receiving for the second week in a row with five receptions for 78 yards, but Murphy added three receptions for 75 yards and that one touchdown. The offense gained 414 total yards while the defense held ETSU to 194 yards, forcing two turnovers while committing none themselves.