Tennessee football: Key moments, turning points in Vols loss to BYU Cougars

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /

Lots of things happened in Tennessee football’s loss to Brigham Young University. Here are key moments and turning points for the Volunteers and Cougars.

There may have been improvement in this game after their season-opening loss to the Georgia State Panthers, but Tennessee football is 0-2 with a loss to the BYU Cougars.. And they have lost both games after leading at halftime.

What is a killer for this game is the Vols blowing a 13-3 halftime lead and then getting the ball to start the second half. They never should have let this one slip away, and doing so is a gigantic heartbreak for everybody on Rocky Top.

But what caused it? How did a team that outgained its opponent by 80 yards and had the ball for seven more minutes lose? That’s what we’re going to break down here. These are the key moments and turning points in Tennessee football’s loss to the BYU Cougars.

Jarrett Guarantano’s third-quarter interception

Obviously this is the play that started it all. The Vols were shutting down the BYU Cougars’ offense and up 13-3. On the opening drive in the second half, Jarrett Guarantano committed the only turnover of the game for either team. He threw into triple-coverage on 3rd and 4 and Kavika Fonua picked off the pass, running it to the Tennessee 20. It was the key play to give BYU the spark it needed.

Ty’Son Williams 3rd down touchdown run

Right after that interception, Tennessee football’s defense looked like it might hold the BYU Cougars to a field goal. LaTrell Bumphus came away with a sack, and the defense forced a 3rd and 6. But on a blitz, the Vol defense reverted back to what it was last week and took a horrible angle as BYU called a draw to Williams, and he took it to the house, cutting the score to 13-10 to make it a game.

BYU holds UT to a field on goal line

In what remained a defensive struggle, the Vols looked to be in great shape to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Up 13-10 they marched down to the BYU Cougars’ nine-yard line from their own 18. Bringing up 1st and goal while up 13-10, they could go up two scores. But BYU’s defense stiffened and forced UT to kick another field goal. So at 16-10, the game was still close.

Vols fourth quarter turnover on downs

Jeremy Pruitt went for it on three fourth downs and only got one of them. With just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Vols had a 4th and 1 at the BYU 30. Up 16-13, Pruitt understandably did not want to give the Cougars the ball back with a one-score lead. But he couldn’t trust his interior line. So he went for it and let Jim Chaney call a reverse play to Josh Palmer. BYU stopped him just short of the marker, keeping the game in play.

Zach Wilson 64-yard pass to Micah Simon

Of course this would be the key play of the game. Ahead 16-13, Tennessee football was set to win. The Cougars were at their own 20 on 3rd and 6 with no timeouts and under 30 seconds to go. But on a deep pass, Alontae Taylor played tight coverage and got beat, which made no sense in that situation, and Zach Wilson hit Micah Simon. Then Nigel Warrior, who could have ended the game with a tackle, also took a bad angle, allowing Simon to run the ball all the way into field goal range before he was tackled. He almost scored a touchdown.

Related Story. Five takeaways from Vols' loss to BYU. light

BYU then tied it at the end of regulation with a field goal that was barely good, and they won in double-overtime. But none of those plays were turning points. They were all set up by that Hail Mary. The Vols were never going to recover from that, so it remains the key play that everything afterward came out of.