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Vols beat South Alabama handily, earn bowl eligibility

Tennessee used a 21-point second quarter to put the game out of reach. The Vols are now 6-5 and eligible to play in a bowl game.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee defeated South Alabama 60-14 on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The victory lifts the Vols' record to 6-5, meaning the program is eligible to play in a bowl game. 

The Vols scored touchdowns on their first four drives of the game. The first two were rushing scores by running backs Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright, respectively. In the second quarter, quarterback Hendon Hooker connected with wide receiver Cedric Tillman for a 27-yard touchdown. Then, he found tight end Princeton Fant for a 24-yard touchdown. 

South Alabama responded to Fant's touchdown with a 10-play 75-yard touchdown drive for their first points of the game. Velus Jones Jr. then returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. It was the first kick return touchdown since 2017. 

Hooker rushed for a six-yard touchdown in the third quarter, putting the Vols up 49-7 and passing VFL Josh Dobbs for fourth-most rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback in program history. 

Hooker finished the game with 273 passing yards, 21 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Small rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Both Jones and Tillman reached the century mark with 103 and 100 receiving yards, respectively. 

Backup quarterback Joe Milton relieved Hooker in the fourth quarter. He completed five passes for 32 yards.

Tennessee ends the regular season on Nov. 27 against rival Vanderbilt at Neyland Stadium. The kickoff is set for 3:45 p.m. ET.

You can watch the postgame conference below.