Fayetteville, AR – Despite leading 13-0 at halftime, the Tennessee Vols football team was unable to hang on and fell 24-13 to the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
Arkansas (3-3) scored all 24 of its points in the third quarter while holding the Vols scoreless in the second half.
Sophomore running back Eric Gray had another impressive performance to lead the Vols offensively. The sophomore recorded his fourth career 100-yard rushing game, finishing the night with 123 yards on 31 carries. He added 27 yards on three receptions, as well.
The Big Orange tied season highs with four sacks and nine tackles for loss in the game.
Redshirt junior Kivon Bennett set a new career high with two sacks while Deandre Johnson and Ja’Quain Blakely added a sack apiece.
Sophomore linebacker Henry To’o To’o had seven tackles and added a pair of TFLs while senior defensive back Theo Jackson set a new career high with 10 tackles to lead the team, including one tackle for loss.
Jarrett Guarantano moved into seventh on UT’s career completions (479) and total yards (5,962) lists after completing 5-of-8 passes for 42 yards and rushing for a career-high 31 yards. Unfortunately, the redshirt senior signal caller was forced to leave the game early in the third quarter after sustaining an injury.
Sophomore Brian Maurer replaced Guarantano but went 0-of-4 passing before giving way to freshman Harrison Bailey, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 65 yards, but also threw two interceptions.
UT opened the scoring with a 50-yard field goal from Brent Cimaglia on the game’s opening drive, his fourth career make from 50-plus yards. The Vols drove 42 yards on 12 plays – 35 coming from Gray on the ground.
Arkansas got a pair of first downs on their opening drive, but UT forced a punt and got the ball back on their 19-yard line.
From there, Guarantano authored a 16-play, 81-yard scoring drive to give Tennessee a 10-0 lead with 13:35 left in the second quarter. He had two rushes for 29 yards, including a career long 20-yard scamper on third-and-8 to keep the drive going. The drive was capped off on a 1-yard plunge from Gray.
The Razorbacks drove 71 yards on 16 plays on the ensuing drive, but AJ Reed missed a 21-yard field goal attempt to give the ball back to the Big Orange.
After trading punts, Cimaglia capped another Tennessee scoring drive with his second field goal of the game. His 48-yarder put the Vols ahead 13-0 with 3:53 left in the second quarter.
Of Tennessee’s 177 total yards in the first half, 135 came on the ground as the Vols used a punishing rushing attack to take a 13-0 lead into the break. Guarantano completed 5-of-8 passes for 42 yards and added 27 yards on the ground. Gray finished the 89 rushing yards on 19 carries in the first half.
Arkansas opened the second half with 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the UT lead to 13-7. Feleipe Franks connected with Mike Woods on a 1-yard pass to get the Hogs on the board and kick start a big third quarter.
The Razorback defense then forced a three-and-out and the offense capitalized with another touchdown drive. Franks connected with Blake Kern on a 6-yard pass to give Arkansas a 14-13 lead.
Maurer entered the game on the next drive but couldn’t get anything going as the Razorbacks forced another three-and-out. Franks found Tyler Burks for a 59-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive to give Arkansas a 21-13 lead.
The Hogs forced yet another three-and-out to get the ball back once again. Reed added three points with a 48-yard field goal to extend Arkansas’ lead to 24-13 heading into the game’s final frame.
Arkansas intercepted passes on Tennessee’ final two drives of the game to end any comeback attempt by the Vols.
Tennessee Vols Football (2-4) returns to Neyland Stadium next Saturday, November 14th, 2020 to host No. 7 Texas A&M at 2:30pm CT.