The Tennessee Volunteers won ugly against the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday. Neyland Stadium played host to an old-fashioned rock fight, as the Vols emerged victorious 14-3 to net their 4th victory of the season and move inches closer to bowl eligibility.
The numbers weren’t so great except for the one in the win column, of course. Tennessee couldn’t get much going against the 49ers’ fierce rushing defense. They amassed just 20 yards despite having 26 carries on the day. They couldn’t find the end zone, either. Tim Jordan had 4.5 yards per carry, but had 18 yards rushing.
Jeremy Banks led the team with 24 rushing yards, and had 2.2 yards per carry. It should be noted that quarterback Jarrett Guarantano “recorded” -24 rushing yards because of sacks and whatnot. So it’s more apt to say that they got 44 yards on 24 carries. It’s still not good, and it’s still pretty bad. But silver linings are important, guys.
Speaking of Guarantano, he led the way with 172 yards and completed 16 of 21 passes. He threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Palmer, who picked up 71 yards on four receptions. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers and looked pretty solid, all things considered.
The usually great Benny LeMay had 81 yards on the day, obviously a game-high. But Conference USA’s second-leading rusher only averaged 3.4 yards per carry on the day. He was also held without a TD and only had as long of a run as 12 yards on the afternoon. Tennessee’s defense allowed just 2.5 yards per carry on the day against the Niners, a great performance, no doubt.
Rico Arnold led the game with five receptions but fell short of Palmer’s 71 yards as he had just 55.
The other touchdown was scored on a punt return by Marquez Callaway, which opened up the scoring in the first quarter. Palmer’s TD reception was in the first quarter, too and Charlotte’s field goal came with 17 seconds in the second half. So... yup, you guessed it: The entire second half didn’t have a single scoring play.
Tennessee’s quest for bowl eligibility will be made in the next three weeks. They have a tough test ahead of them, though, as they play the Kentucky Wildcats, the resurgent Missouri Tigers and then the Vanderbilt Commodores. They will have to hope to pick off either the vaunted Wildcats or the high-flying Tigers, assuming that the Vandy game comes “easy” for them. Otherwise, they won’t be bowling and will be staring 4-8 in the face.