Tennessee football: Turning points and highlights in Vols’ 34-13 loss to Aggies

Texas A&M dominated the Tennessee football Volunteers. These were the key moments.

Just like they have been doing throughout this slide, Tennessee football managed to give false hope to Vols fans early. The Vols scored the first touchdown of the game, taking a first-half lead, for the fifth straight time but couldn’t hold it, as the Texas A&M Aggies pulled away for a dominating 34-13 win that wasn’t even that close.

Jeremy Pruitt’s team finished the regular season with a 3-7 record, one of the worst in school history, while A&M, ranked No. 5, improved to 8-1 on the year. Jimbo Fisher clearly reminded Pruitt who his boss was.

However, with both J.T. Shrout and Harrison Bailey starting once again, Rocky Top managed to provide a bit of entertainment early. There were a couple of highlights worth revisiting in favor of UT, including 33-yard this touchdown pass from Bailey to tight end Jacob Warren to give the Vols a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Later in the first half, Texas A&M had taken control of the game, but the Vols did manage to cut it to 17-13 again with this incredible touchdown. J.T. Shrout threw a perfect pass, and Cedric Tillman laid out for an amazing catch.

Still, Texas A&M managed to pull away and didn’t allow Tennessee football to score the rest of the way. It was methodical dominance, but the game still came down to a few plays. These were the key moments and turning points in the Vols’ loss.

Deandre Johnson offsides penalty on A&M’s opening drive

After the Vols went up 7-0 early, they then brought up a 3rd and 10 on the Texas A&M Aggies’ opening drive. However, Deandre Johnson, trying to time the snap count, went offside. That brought up a much more manageable 3rd and 5, and A&M converted. They then drove down the field for the tying score.

Harrison Bailey fumble after strip-sack with Vols trailing 14-7

This play put Texas A&M in control. Harrison Bailey was nearly strip-sacked the previous drive for holding onto the ball too long. He paid for it the following drive. Texas A&M, up 14-7, forced and recovered a fumble in the second quarter here. That led to a field goal to put them up 17-7.

Deandre Johnson penalty on A&M’s final first-half drive

Once the Vols cut it to 17-13, they had some momentum again. The Aggies got the ball back and were faced with a 3rd and 14. Kellen Mond threw an incomplete pass, and UT seemed poised to get the ball back. However, Deandre Johnson was flagged for a hands to the face penalty. That gave A&M an automatic first down, and they ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive.

J.T. Shrout overthrown swing pass resulting in loss of yards

Despite trailing 24-13, UT had multiple chances early in the second half. After getting a surprise stop on Texas A&M’s opening offensive drive of the half, the Vols drove to midfield with J.T. Shrout. However, Shrout then had a bad overthrow on a simple swing pass on 2nd down. The ball went out of bounds for a six-yard loss, forcing a 3rd and 16 and effectively killing the drive.

Three straight mistakes by veteran skill players

Not only did UT’s defense stop the Aggies on their first drive, but Alontae Taylor then had an interception in the red zone on their second drive. He again returned it to near midfield. However, Josh Palmer and Ty Chandler then had back to back false starts. Then, on 3rd and 18, J.T. Shrout hit Palmer with a perfect pass for a first down, but he dropped it.

That forced Tennessee football to punt, and the Texas A&M Aggies then scored another touchdown to take complete control. You can’t blame the Vols’ defense at that point. They had back to back stops to open the half. If UT scores on one of them, and if you take away that Deandre Johnson penalty at the end of the first half, this may have been a game.