Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Vols Football got touchdown passes from Harrison Bailey and J.T. Shrout in the first half, but the Vols were unable to keep pace in falling 34-13 to fifth-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.
Bailey, a true freshman, had a 33-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive and finished the day 6-of-6 for 85 yards. Redshirt sophomore J.T. Shrout added a 46-yard strike with a sensational catch by redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cedric Tillman in the second quarter and ended the game 6-of-14 for 104 yards. Tillman led all UT receivers with 61 yards on two catches.
Tennessee Vols football team falls to #5 Texas A&M Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium, 34-13. (UT Athletics)
Defensively, three Vol sophomores racked up 10 or more tackles vs. the Aggies (8-1). Linebacker Henry To’o To’o accumulated a career-high 13 stops, including nine solos.
It marked the second game in a row and third this season in which he recorded 10 or more tackles. Fellow linebacker Quavaris Crouch and safety Jaylen McCollough added 11 each for career highs. Junior cornerback Alontae Taylor thwarted a drive with his first pick of the season.
Tennessee (3-7) opened the game with a touchdown on its opening drive for just the second time this season, as Bailey engineered a five-play, 75-yard drive that took only 2:32 off the clock.
Bailey was 3-of-3 passing for 64 yards on the march, with tight ends Princeton Fant and Jacob Warren accounting for 48 yards of it. Warren’s 33-yard scoring reception, the first TD of his career and longest reception, was the capper. Toby Wilson added the PAT to put UT on top, 7-0, with 12:28 to go in the opening stanza.
Texas A&M responded on its first possession of the game, also covering 75 yards, but in 10 plays, to get on the scoreboard with 6:32 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Kellen Mond, who was 4-for-4 passing on the series for 53 yards, put the Aggies on the board with his legs, scrambling in from five yards out. Seth Small added the extra point to knot the score at seven.
A&M moved in front with 13:17 to go in the second frame, as running back Isaiah Spiller rammed his way into the end zone from three yards out. Small booted the PAT to make it 14-7 Aggies after a 12-play, 69-yard drive that included Spiller accounting for 14 yards on five rushes and 28 yards via a pair of pass receptions.
Texas A&M started its next series at the UT 39, thanks to a strip sack of Bailey by defensive end DeMarvin Leal and a recovery by linebacker Andre White Jr. The Vol defense stiffened in the red zone, however, limiting the Aggies to a 23-yard Small field goal that extended the visitors’ lead to 17-7 with 5:52 remaining in the first half.
Shrout came on in place of Bailey for UT’s fourth series of the game. He made quick work of the A&M defense, putting the exclamation point on a four-play, 75-yard drive with a 46-yard deep ball that a fully-extended Tillman impressively snared while being interfered with in the checkerboard. It was Tillman’s first TD grab of the season and the second of his career. Wilson’s PAT was no good after hitting the right upright, making the score 17-13 Aggies with 4:08 to go in the half.
After an incomplete third-down pass, the Vols appeared to have forced a Texas A&M punt late in the second quarter, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play extended the drive. The Aggies took full advantage, tacking on another score. A 4-yard pass from Mond to running back Ainias Smith, followed by the PAT from Small, pushed the lead to 24-13 with 18 seconds left before intermission.
With A&M moving deep into Tennessee’s territory late in third quarter, Taylor picked off Mond in the end zone and returned the ball to the UT 45. That marked only the third interception of the season for the Aggie signal-caller and his team’s first turnover since October 17th at Mississippi State. Taylor’s pick, his first this season and second of his career, helped the Big Orange defense hold the visitors scoreless in the third period.
Texas A&M tallied twice in the second half to close out the scoring for both teams. Smith’s one-yard plunge and Small’s PAT pushed the lead to 31-13 with 9:02 left in the fourth frame. Small tacked on a 21-yard field goal with 1:19 to go to make the final score 34-13 Aggies.
Texas A&M 34, Tennessee 13
TopicsAggies, Alontae Taylor, Harrison Bailey, Henry To'o To'o, J.T. Shrout, Knoxville TN, Neyland Stadium, Quavaris Crouch, SEC, Southeastern Conference, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UT, UT Football, UT Vols, Vols, Volunteers