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No. 24 Tennessee edges No. 17 Pittsburgh in OT, 34-27

The Vols improve to 2-0 on the season after winning this top 25 matchup.
Credit: AP
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker throws a pass against Pittsburgh during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Pittsburgh. Tennessee won 34-27 in overtime. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH — No. 24 Tennessee went on the road and took down No. 17 Pittsburgh in a tense overtime win on Saturday.

The Vols got off to a rough start in that game. The offense went three and out on its first two drives. Pittsburgh's offense took advantage opening up the scoring with a field goal and then a 76-yard rushing touchdown from Israel Abanikanda.

The Vols offense couldn't score on their next drive either. The Panthers were marching down the field. A huge momentum-shifting play from Tennessee's defense came when defensive back Trevon Flowers came up with an interception in the endzone.

UT's offense got it going after that.  They marched down the field and punched in a one-yard touchdown courtesy of running back Jabari Small.

Pittsburgh extended their lead to 10 points again though on a play that many were talking about. Panthers tight end Gavin Bartholomew caught a pass, hurdled Vols defensive back Trevon Flowers and galloped for a 57-yard touchdown.

From there Tennessee took over the first half.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bru McCoy.  On their next offensive drive, Hooker found wide receiver Cedric Tillman on a 61-yard completion. That drive was punctuated with Small scoring on another one-yard touchdown.

Off of that, the Vols grabbed a 21-17 lead.

As the first half was winding down, EDGE Tyler Baron picked up a sack and forced a fumble that gave Tennessee the ball on Pittsburgh's side of the field. They turned that into a field goal, knocked in by Chase McGrath and took a 24-17 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh turned to backup quarterback Nick Patti as starter Kedon Slovis went out due to injury.

The Panthers missed a field goal off their opening drive of the second half. Later in the quarter, they came up with a blocked punt that would eventually set them up with a field goal attempt again, which was also missed.

The game remained at a seven-point lead for the Vols.

That was until Vols running back Jaylen Wright fumbled the ball away on their next offensive possession. Pittsburgh turned that into a field goal to trim the Vols' lead to 24-20.

Tennessee responded with a field goal of their own from Chase McGrath to extend the lead back to 27-20. The drive included a big third down catch from McCoy and a fourth down catch from Tillman.

In the fourth quarter with about seven minutes to go, Flowers muffed a punt return, setting up Pittsburgh on Tennessee's side of the field. The Panthers scored a tying touchdown on a fourth and goal. Patti found wide receiver Jared Wayne in the back of the endzone to make it 27-27.

The game would go to overtime tied at that same score.

Tennessee got the ball first. Hooker found Tillman on a 28-yard touchdown. to take a 34-27  lead.

Pittsburgh wasn't able to score on their possession and the Vols won the game. Flowers came up with a huge sack on third down that put the Panthers in a fourth and goal from the 21-yard line, which they could not convert.

Tennessee improves to 2-0 on the season and will face Akron in Neyland Stadium next Saturday.

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