KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 9 Tennessee struggled early but remained unbeaten after a 30-13 win over Austin-Peay in the home opener in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
The Governors got the ball to start and faced an early fourth down with two yards to gain for a first down. Quarterback Mike DiLiello, ran for 45 yards down to the Tennessee 22 yard line. APSU got backed up following a 15 yard penalty resulting from a blindside block later in the drive.
They settled for a 45 yard field goal and took a 3-0 lead.
Tennessee had two short possessions on offense to start that resulted in no points but caught a lucky break. Austin-Peay fumbled a punt return and UT recovered it on their opponent's 13-yard line. However, the Vols only gained two yards after taking over and settled for a 28-yard field goal from Charles Campbell to tie the score at 3-3.
The Vols had 59 total yards of offense in the first quarter.
The Governors took the lead again in the second quarter. A 12 play, 67 yard drive led to another field goal and a 6-3 lead.
A spark for the Tennessee offense came on their next offensive drive. Jabari Small busted off a 38 yard run. The UT drive was stalled by a couple of penalties and they settled for a 37 yard field goal from Campbell to tie the score once again 6-6.
The Vols drove the ball in the final minutes of the first half and scored their first touchdown seconds before halftime. Quarterback Joe Milton kept the ball for a six yard rushing touchdown that put UT ahead 13-6 going into the break.
The Vols got the ball to start the second half and the offense scored another touchdown. Running back Jaylen Wright had a 26 yard run and a 31 yard run on the drive. Milton found wide receiver Ramel Keyton for a five yard passing touchdown to put UT up 20-6.
Later in the third quarter following a fourth down stop on defense for UT, they had a 44 yard drive that ended with another Campbell field goal. Tennessee extended their lead to 23-6.
Austin-Peay made it a two possession game in the fourth quarter when DiLiello found Trey Goodman for a 52 yard touchdown. The Governors trimmed the lead to 23-13.
Tennessee immediately responded on their next drive. Milton launched one deep to tight end to , McCallan Castles for a 43 yard touchdown. UT went back up 30-13.
Tennessee improves to 2-0 on the season and plays their first SEC game next weekend against rival Florida. That game in Gainesville next Saturday. Game time is at 7 p.m.