Vols complete first eight-loss season since 1891
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Athletics) – The Tennessee Volunteers concluded the 2017 football season Saturday with a 42-24 loss to Vanderbilt at Neyland Stadium in front of 83,117.
After a close start, Vanderbilt (5-7, 1-7 SEC) took a 21-14 lead shortly before halftime with a touchdown. While Tennessee (4-8, 0-8) came within four points on a 49-yard field goal by Aaron Medley, the Commodores pulled away and eventually out-gained Tennessee 529 to 238 yards.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed 20-of-31 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns, and running back Ralph Webb rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 14-of-22 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Johnson recorded 107 receiving yards, his second career game with at least 100 yards.
The Vols honored their 22 seniors before their final home game at Neyland Stadium. This year’s senior class combined for 29 wins over their past four seasons and three-consecutive bowl game victories for the first time in program history.
The Vols wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, marching 85 yards down the field and finishing with a touchdown on the first possession. Guarantano found Marquez Callaway in the corner of the end zone with 10:06 on the clock.
Vanderbilt answered on its first possession, a 75-yard drive capped by a nine-yard connection from Shurmur to C.J. Duncan to tie the game 7-7.
John Kelly pushed across the goal line on a one-yard gain for his ninth touchdown of the year on the next Tennessee drive with 2:50 left in the first to put the Vols ahead 14-7 after the extra point by Medley.
The Commodores converted on the following six-minute, 75-yard drive to tie the game again with Webb spinning over the defense and into the end zone.
After the Vols went scoreless on a drive, Vanderbilt took the lead for the first time. Shurmur found Kalija Lipscomb in open space down the right side for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Commodores a 21-14 lead with 2:37 left in the first half. Vanderbilt had a touchdown called back for an ineligible receiver in its next possession, and the score remained the same at halftime.
Tennessee chipped away Vanderbilt’s lead to 21-17 as Medley hit a career-long 49-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the third quarter, ending a 30-yard drive that began when Tennessee’s defense foiled a Vanderbilt fourth down attempt.
Vanderbilt tallied 21 points in the fourth quarter. Shurmur connected with Trent Sherfield for a 20-yard touchdown and added another touchdown on a 1-yard connection from Shurmur to Sherfield again. Webb rushed for a 20-yard touchdown, his second of the night, with 5:59 remaining to put Vanderbil up 42-17.
The Vols scored their first touchdown of the second half when Guarantano hit Ethan Wolf with a 20-yard pass, making the score 42-24 with 4:27 remaining.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Daniel Bituli led the Vols with 12 tackles, and junior defensive back Micah Abernathy added 11 tackles.