SEC Digital Network
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee returned to the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon and the Volunteers fought off a stingy South Alabama squad for a 31-24 win. Running back Raijon Neal spearheaded the effort for the Vols (3-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) with 169 yards and a score on the ground.
South Alabama (2-1) took an early lead thanks to a 32-yard scamper from Ross Metheny, but Tennessee fired back with 31 straight points to put the game out of reach. USA didn’t go down without a fight, rallying with three straight touchdowns before falling short in the final minutes.
Tennessee was powered by a strong rushing attack on Saturday, totaling 278 yards on 37 attempts as a team for a 7.5-yard per carry average. Neal averaged 6.8 yards per rush on his own, carrying 25 times and scoring an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put the Vols ahead by 24 points.
Metheny did his best for South Alabama, throwing for 234 yards and running for 67 more. He found the end zone twice on the ground, but was unable to throw for any scores and the Volunteers managed to force him into a pair of interceptions.
Butch Jones has is now 16-9 overall following a loss in seven seasons as a head coach.
Passing – Justin Worley, 20-for-36, 204 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing – Raijon Neal, 25 car, 169 yards, TD
Receiving – Jason Croom, 3 rec, 50 yards
Passing – Ross Metheny, 21-for-42, 234 yards, 2 INT
Rushing – Ross Metheny, 10 car, 67 yards, 2 TD
Receiving – Shavarez Smith, 4 rec, 82 yards
• This was the first ever meeting between Tennessee and South Alabama.
• Tennessee is now 9-0 against teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference, including a 52-20 win over Western Kentucky on Sept. 7.
• The Vols have now recorded 10 straight home wins against non-conference opponents, and have won 14 consecutive games against teams from non-BCS conferences.