Vols Rally to Defeat Southern Miss
Tennessee held a slim 17-16 lead at the half
Sept. 8, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Erik Ainge threw a touchdown pass a piece to Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe, Arian Foster ran for two scores and No. 24 Tennessee defeated Southern Miss 39-19 Saturday night.
"The potential has always been there, so we aren't shocked that they're where they're supposed to be every time," Ainge said about his new top pass catchers.
Ainge completed 23 of 36 for 276 yards, getting a lot of help from the developing receivers. Rogers caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, Taylor added 118 yards on five catches and Briscoe caught a touchdown.
Foster ran for 125 yards on 23 carries.
The Vols made a key conversion on third-and-short with when Ainge connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Briscoe with 41 seconds left in the second quarter to send Tennessee (1-1) into the locker room with a 17-16 lead.
After trailing Southern Miss most of the first half, the Vols held the lead after the Briscoe touchdown, capitalizing on three lost fumbles by Southern Mississippi (1-1).
Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo forced the ball from Tory Harrison with 9:35 in the third quarter and Jarod Parrish recovered. A 35-yard pass from Ainge to Taylor set up Foster's 9-yd touchdown five plays later to put the Vols up 27-16.
"Anytime you get a turnover, it's important to capitalize on the opportunity," Foster said.
Harrison fumbled again on a kickoff return with 8:21 in the fourth quarter and kicker Daniel Lincoln, filling in for an injured Britton Colquitt, connected on a 47-yard field goal pushing Tennessee to a 37-19 lead.
Tennessee was awarded a safety with 5:29 in the fourth after Nevin McKenzie forced the ball from backup quarterback Stephen Reaves, who kicked the ball out of the Southern Miss end zone.
"Football is a game where you can't have turnovers," Southern Miss quarterback Jeremy Young said. "the team who forces the most and recovers the most is normally the team that wins and that's what happened."
Tennessee's defense struggled in the first half, allowing a one-play scoring drive when Young threw down the field to Chris Johnson to put the Golden Eagles up 10-7 with 9:11 in the first. The 69-yard touchdown pass was a career-high completion for Young.
Young went 19-of-36 for a career-high 254 yards, surpassing his previous best of 193 yards set against Memphis in 2006. He also ran for 48 yards on nine carries.
Damion Fletcher, who rushed for 156 yards last week against Tennessee-Martin, was limited to only 37 yards on 11 carries. Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said Fletcher was hindered by cramps and sat out for much of the second half.
The Golden Eagles converted only three of 16 third downs, struggling mostly inside the red zone.
"We had chances to score and settled for field goals," Bower said. "When you play good teams you have to get touchdowns."
Justin Estes connected on field goals of 30 yards, 41 yards and 24 yards for Southern Miss, his first career field goals, but missed on a 42-yard attempt. Britt Barefoot also succeeded in his first career field goal, a 51 yarder.
Lincoln also hit a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Fulmer said he opted not to use Colquitt for punting or kicking responsibilities because he was still sore from punting in the Cal game with a lingering muscle pull. Fulmer said he was pleased with how Lincoln and punter Chad Cunningham have performed in his place.
"Lincoln, our young kicker, and Cunningham, our young punter, came through for us," Fulmer said. "Britton might have been able to play, but we took the chance that the youngster would get it done."