Game recap: Tennessee 42, Montana 16
Tennessee Stat Book
There was a little something for everyone Saturday night in Tennessee's 42-16 win over Montana at Neyland Stadium.
The meteorologists got a nasty storm that delayed the opening kickoff of the 2011 football season by 93 minutes.
The fans in the generously announced crowd of 94,661 were rewarded for getting soaked with some early big plays that erased any doubts about the eventual outcome.
And the Vols, despite the comfortable victory margin, showed enough frailties to give coach Derek Dooley and his staff plenty of corrective issues to address this week.
Tyler Bray threw three touchdown passes in the first half, freshman Marlin Lane scored two touchdowns and sophomores Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter each had big nights on the receiving ends of Bray passes.
Tauren Poole had a touchdown run and senior cornerback Art Evans chipped in a timely 37-yard interception return for a score.
Bray finished 17 of 24 passing for 293 yards.
Rogers and Hunter each topped the 100-yard receiving mark.
There was, however, no compelling evidence to suggest the running game was significantly improved from last year's dismal result.
Through three quarters, the Vols checked in with 79 rushing yards on 35 attempts. They finished at 129 yards on 45 rushes.
Poole rushed 24 times for 98 yards.
When a Montana punt backed UT up to its 1 in the third quarter, Poole was tackled in end zone for a safety.
The Vols drove to the Montana goal line in the closing minutes only to be stopped cold on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
The Vols were fortunate in the turnover department.
Two Bray passes were intercepted only to have the plays nullified by pass-interference penalties on Montana.
The Vols fumbled five times in the first half but recovered four and the fifth skittered out of bounds.
Tennessee used a combination of quick strikes and sustained drives to roll up a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Vols scored a pair of touchdowns in each quarter to go up 28-0 before the Grizzlies struck with a big play of their own to get the goose egg off the scoreboard.
Anthony Anderson got the first fumble recovery and it gave the Vols a mulligan to get the offense jump-started.
After a three-and-out series to open the game, Matt Darr punted. Montana fumbled the return, Anderson snatched it and the offense had new life at the Grizzlies' 47.
On the first snap, Bray handed off to Poole, took a pitch back from Poole and found Da'Rick Rogers open for the touchdown.
The next score was an 81-yard catch-and-run to Hunter.
The third score came on a 12-play, 96-yard drive that included tackle Dallas Thomas recovering a Poole fumble and a pass-interference flag on Montana that nullified and end-zone interception.
The grateful Vols converted on Bray's 9-yard pass to freshman tailback Lane for a 21-0 lead.
Tennessee then went long again — a 13-play drive for 76 yards. Along the way, Poole recovered a Bray fumble and freshman Vincent Dallas recovered a Zach Rogers fumble.
Dallas' heads-up play gave UT a first-and-goal at the Montana 8 and Poole plowed in from there for a 28-0 lead with 4:06 left in the half.
Montana, at last, had an answer: get receiver Jabin Sambrano matched up deep with freshman cornerback Justin Coleman.
Sambrano beat Coleman for the catch, evaded the tackle and ran away to complete an 80-yard touchdown.
That's where it ended at the half. Tennessee had 302 yards of offense to Montana's 140.
Bray was 10-of-13 for 235 yards and three TDs in the half.
The third quarter saw both teams spinning their offensive wheels. Only the defenses scored.
Montana dropped a punt dead at the UT 1, then stuffed Poole in the end zone for a safety to make it 35-9.
Tennessee then free-kicked the ball to Montana but the Grizzlies squandered any hope of momentum — throwing an interception that Art Evans returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
That left it 35-9 going into the fourth quarter.