It’s crazy to think that a 66-24 win was in question in the second half, but Tennessee football was locked in a battle with the Missouri Tigers with less than 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. A few crucial plays broke the game open, and others helped set the tone earlier. Here are the turning points from the Vols’ win over Mizzou.
Hendon Hooker 22-yard pass to Jacob Warren
Stopping Missouri’s opening drive wasn’t a shock, as they win games with tough defense. The question was if the Vols would be sluggish offensively against an elite defense like Mizzou’s. Well, on their first offensive play after forcing that three-and-out, they made sure that wasn’t the case.
Jacob Warren caught a 22-yard pass for Hendon Hooker, a play that ended in him fighting for extra yards. It was clear the Vols weren’t distracted or lethargic with that play, and they scored a touchdown on that drive. That set the tempo for the whole game.
Hendon Hooker fourth down 30-yard completion to Jalin Hyatt
After that first touchdown drive, Missouri had tied it up, and they had stopped Tennessee football’s offense on its second drive with a turnover on downs. On their third drive, the Vols were once again in Mizzou territory, and a 4th and 4 came up at the Mizzou 33-yard line.
Just like he did for the Vols’ only touchdown at the Georgia Bulldogs, Hendon Hooker found Jalin Hyatt for a 30-yard completion. It was an epic catch that set up a three-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Wright to put the Vols up 14-7. They never did relinquish the lead after that.
Hendon Hooker 68-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Hyatt
Despite controlling the game, the Vols left too many points on the board in the first half. Too many mistakes allowed Mizzou to come back and cut their lead to 28-24 in the third quarter. UT needed a big play to take control, so of course, they called Jalin Hyatt’s number.
Josh Heupel dialed up the perfect play-call, and Hendon Hooker found Hyatt wide open for a pass that Hyatt then took to the house himself for the score. That was the play to give the momentum back to Rocky Top, as it put the up by two scores, and it began the onslaught.
Two Missouri false starts on third quarter drive
Up by two scores, Tennessee football still needed a stop. Mizzou was moving on the next drive. However, then penalties hit. On 2nd and 7, they had a false start. Then there was an incomplete pass. A second false start penalty occurred on 3rd and 12, brining up a 3rd and 17.
Brady Cook then completed an 11-yard pass, but it wasn’t enough, and that forced Mizzou to punt. Although the Vols had other defensive stands, this one, getting them the ball back with the two-score lead in the second half, gave them the chance to break the game open.
Dylan Sampson 42-yard run
Sure, they had a two-score lead and the ball in the third quarter, but that’s also how the Vols started the third quarter, and they got nothing out of that. They needed a big play. Enter freshman running back Dylan Sampson. With Jabari Small banged up, Sampson emerged.
On the first play for Tennessee football the next drive, Sampson took a handoff, made an epic cut, and ran it 42 yards into the red zone. He then had a 15-yard run to set up a touchdown pass to Princeton Fant, which finally put the Vols up by three scores. That allowed the game to break open, so Sampson delivered the final dagger.