Tennessee Stat Book
All those points, all those plays, all those yards. They just kept coming. It was hard to absorb.
Still, it took a while to comprehend.
Looking down at the stat sheet in his hand midway through his postgame media session, the math suddenly computed.
“Is that 1,400?’’ Dooley said, seizing on the combined total yardage. “Holy Jesus.
“We used to get that much in a season.’’
A Neyland Stadium crowd announced generously as 84,189 was treated — or subjected? — to:
A Neyland Stadium-record 103 points.
A staggering combined 175 offensive plays, 99 of them by Troy.
And a record-setting 1,439 yards of offense.
The final points came via Marlin Lane’s 9-yard run with 1:25 to play, followed by Michael Palardy’s PAT kick.
That broke a 48-48 tie, but on this day, the Vols were hardly home free.
Tennessee’s defense still had to get a stop — and it hadn’t gotten many all day.
Over the final 78 seconds, the defense bent a little more but it didn’t break. Troy’s fourth-down pass from the UT 40 sailed incomplete and the clock ran out.
Finally, after 41 days, Tennessee (4-5) had a victory, ending a four-game spate of losing against ranked SEC opponents.
The carnage showed Troy (4-5) with 721 yards of offense, the most ever allowed by a UT defense.
“It’s a bad defense,’’ said Dooley, “we didn’t really have an answer for anything.’’
The Vols countered with 718 yards, a school record.
Tyler Bray’s arm authored 530 of them, breaking Peyton Manning’s 1997 UT single-game passing record.
Bray was 29 of 47 with five TD passes.
“I just knew we were down seven with three minutes to go,’’ said Bray. “That’s all I was worried about.
“I could care less about breaking records.’’
Bray’s reference was to Troy taking a 48-41 lead on Corey Robinson’s 67-yard TD bomb to Eric Thomas with 3:14 left.
Robinson, who grew up a UT fan dreaming of playing in Neyland Stadium, passed for 393 yards.
Bray remedied the above dilemma with a 46-yard TD pass to Justin Hunter to make it 48-48 with 2:54 to play.
Then, after UT’s defense forced a rare Troy punt, Bray led the drive that produced Lane’s game-winning touchdown.
“We did gut it out in the fourth quarter,’’ Dooley said. “That’s something Tyler had never done.
“It used to be you’d grind ‘em out 9-6. Now you grind ‘em out 55-48. It’s a new era.’’
Hunter also had TD catches of 21 and 40 yards as Tennessee spurted to a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter.
Hunter’s nine catches and 181 receiving yards were only good for runner-up honors. Cordarrelle Patterson had nine catches for 219 yards and a 14-yard touchdown.
Lane also scored on a 17-yard run in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 132 rushing yards.
Rajion Neal returned from a two-game absence to snag a 23-yard TD pass from Bray to put Tennessee up 41-40 early in the fourth quarter.
No lead was safe all day for either team.
Troy easily bettered its previous scoring total against an SEC opponent.
The Trojans scored on three consecutive second-quarter possessions to wipe out Tennessee’s 28-10 lead and signal that the Vols had not solved their season-long defensive issues.
Troy repeatedly converted on third-and-long. The Trojans were able to escape poor field position with big gains time after time.
“It ain’t always gonna be how you draw it up in practice,’’ said UT safety Byron Moore.
It’s hard to say how Tennessee drew it up in practice.
“We knew statistically it was gonna be a tough game,’’ said Dooley. “Not this tough.
“You see these games all over the country. It’s certainly not something Tennessee is used to.’’
In fact, UT fans are starting to get used to it.
The Vols have yielded at least 38 points in five consecutive games, at least 41 in four of the five.
“We thought we could move the ball,’’ said Troy coach Larry Blakeney. “We had no idea we would get 48 points.
“If you told me we were going to score 48, I would have told you we were going to win by three or four scores.’’
But when the final play had gained the final yard, Tennessee had won.
Now it’s back to SEC play. Next up is Missouri (4-5, 1-5) making its Neyland Stadium SEC debut, followed by Vanderbilt (5-4, 3-3) and Kentucky (1-9, 0-7).
“I feel pretty good,’’ Dooley said, “better than you guys think.
“Just think of the alternative.’’
In the previous four hours, a lot of UT fans had done just that.
Mike Strange may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange