No. 15 Tennessee handles business against Akron

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- No. 15 Tennessee followed up its big road win over Pitt with a dominant performance against Akron.

Tennessee improves to 3-0 on the season after defeating the Zips, 63-6.

Tennessee opened its first drive of the game with an 11-yard run from Jabari Small. The running back rushed 3 more yards before exiting the game with an injury. The Vols continued down the field with 12 plays for 41 yards to come up short in the opening drive. Kicker Chase McGrath missed a 47-yard field goal, his first miss of the season, to leave the game scoreless.

The Vols went to work on defense. Bryon Young pressured Akron quarterback DJ Irons to force a quick three-and-out. Tennessee capitalized on the ensuing drive. Jaylen Wright checked in for Small at running back and capped off a 7-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Vols an early 7-0 lead. Tennessee kept its foot on the gas. True freshman running back Dylan Sampson found the end zone on a speed-option play to give the Vols a 14-0 lead to close the first quarter.

Tennessee continued to dominate in the second quarter. Hooker showed off his arm to open the second quarter and connected with Jalin Hyatt on a 57-yard deep ball to give the Vols a 21-0 lead. Hooker has completed a passing touchdown in 15 straight games. The Vols found the end zone again. Sampson found the orange and white checkerboard with an 11-yard run off of a speed-option play to extend UT’s lead, 28-0. Senior wideout Cedric Tillman exited the game early following a lower-body injury so Hyatt became Hooker’s top target on the night. Hooker connected with Hyatt for a 48-yard touchdown pass to give Tennessee a 34-0 lead over Akron at the half.

The Vols opened the third quarter scoring with a one-yard rush up the middle for his second touchdown of the night. McGrath remained automatic on extra point attempts to extend the Vols’ lead to 42-0. Akron avoided being zipped by completing a 35-yard field goal to get on the board, 42-3. Tennessee’s defense stifled any sliver of momentum from Akron. Tennessee’s front produced three consecutive sacks during Akron’s third drive of the quarter, including two from freshman linebacker Elijah Herring. Joe Milton III checked in under center and completed a 57-yard deep ball to Ramel Keyton to extend UT’s lead, 49-3 to close out the third quarter.

Milton continued to show off his cannon of an arm in the fourth quarter. Milton completed a 38-yard pass up the middle to sophomore Walker Merrill for Milton’s second touchdown pass of the night to make it a 56-3 game. Akron managed to score 6 total points but only through the uprights. Tayven Jackson took over for Milton in the Vols’ final drive of the game. The freshman capped off the night with his first touchdown in orange and white. Jackson called his own number with a 1-yard run to close out the Vols’ scoring.