Vols survive blazing comeback, beat UAB in OT

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Matt Simms threw a 25-yard touchdown to Denarius Moore on Tennessee's first play of double-overtime as the Volunteers beat Alabama-Birmingham 32-29 on Saturday.

The Vols (2-2) had held a 23-7 lead at halftime. But the Blazers (1-3) staged their second major comeback in two weeks as David Isabelle found Frantrell Forrest on a 27-yard touchdown strike and ran for 6 yards for another score and Bryan Ellis hit Jeffery Anderson on two 2-point conversions.

UAB's Josh Zahn, who missed four field goals in regulation, connected on a 35-yard field goal in the first overtime and a 21-yarder in the second to take a 29-26 lead. Daniel Lincoln kicked a 40-yard field goal for Tennessee in the first overtime.

The Blazers dominated in nearly every category. They picked up 544 yards compared to the Vols' 287 yards, had eight more first downs and converted seven more third down attempts.

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GAME BLOG:

UAB is driving with a chance to win for the first time ever at Neyland Stadium. They have the ball just short of Tennessee territory.

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The Tennessee Vols might as well be called the Tennessee "Stalls" today...another drive stalls, and the Vols give the ball back to the Blazers with 5:33 left.

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Tennessee (barely) gets its first third-down conversion of the day. The Vols are 1-for-11, with one fourth-down conversion. They're trying to mount a drive with under seven minutes remaining.

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UAB storms down the field and scores on a six-yard touchdown run, then converts the two-point conversion to tie the game at 23 with 9:12 left.

Tennessee's defense gave up a couple easy runs to speedy quarterback David Isabelle. The same team that needed a miracle to beat Troy a week ago is now tied at Neyland Stadium.

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Tennessee is now 0-for-10 on third down. The Vols have 20 carries for 39 yards. This is a UAB team that got beat by Florida Atlantic and blown out by SMU, and the Vols are struggling to move the football and make third-down stops.

It doesn't bode well for the October gauntlet of LSU, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, especially since three of those games are on the road.

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One first down and then three-and-out for the Vols, who have 194 fewer yards and five fewer first downs than UAB. Matt Simms is 2-for-7 in the second half.

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The UAB kicker has missed again, this time from 30 yards. It's his fourth miss of the game. After the miss, he went to the ground, his head in his hands. It's been that kind of day inside the red zone for the Blazers, though they've been brilliant between the twenties.

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After a first-down completion, UAB now has 306 passing yards. The root problem? UT's defensive linemen aren't putting ample pressure on the quarterback. And even when they do, the UT secondary is leaving some pretty big holes.

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Tennessee's third-down curse continues. A wide-open Zack Rogers drops a pass, and the Blazers will get the ball back at their own 20 down eight points. What will it take for the Vols ton convert?

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In the "ouch" category...UAB is 6-for-14 on third down. Tennessee? 0-for-7.

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On a side note, UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis deserves a medal of honor for how often he's bounced back from bone-jarring hits. He's taking a beating and getting back up every time, albeit sometimes slowly and woozily.

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UAB caps a 9-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass on fourth-and-8, taking advantage of several third down conversions and lackluster coverage by Tennessee's secondary to make the score 23-15 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

Tennessee brought a heavy blitz on the fourth-down play, but the Vols couldn't get to quarterback David Isabelle and cornerback Eric Gordon was unable to find the football.

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UAB is outgaining Tennessee, 263-199. Matt Simms is 9-of-14 for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. David Oku is Tennessee's leading rusher, with 28 yards on five carries.

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Tennessee leads UAB 23-7 at halftime, despite being outgained in both passing and rushing. Stats upcoming.

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UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis serves up a gift to Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner, who returns the interception nine yards for a Tennessee touchdown.

It's Waggner's second pick-six of the year, this one far easier than his long return against UT-Martin.

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Tennessee almost converts on third and long, but once again fails to move the sticks and punts to the UAB 5.

The Blazers are outgaining the Vols in both rushing and passing, but haven't been able to make field goals or finish drives.

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The Tennessee offense is 0-for-30 this season on third-and-6 or longer. Ouch.

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Tennessee goes three-and-out, but forces the Blazers to do the same. This next drive will start at the 11. It's a chance for the Vols to burn some clock and put some more points on the board with a long drive.

Instead, Tennessee goes three-and-out again. The Vols in a rut offensively. It mirrors their struggles in the second quarter against UT-Martin.

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UAB continues to move the ball through the air. The Blazers have 175 passing yards and are inside the Tennessee 30 once again, threatening to score.

But the Blazers miss their second field goal, letting the Vols off the hook. Tennessee allowed to third-and-long conversions on the drive. It's an alarming trend that the Vols also showed against Florida.

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Tauren Poole has left the game with a thigh injury. His return in probable, so no need for alarm.

What is alarming, however, is the Vols' pass coverage. The Blazers just connected on a 25-yard pass on third and long to move the chains. The Vols are being caught out of position quite often.

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Daniel Lincoln boots a 48-yard field goal to put Tennessee ahead 17-7 less than two minutes into the second quarter.

The Vols have had the ball four times and scored on three of those possessions. If the secondary can cover the receivers better, this game will get out of hand.

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The Tennessee coaching staff has been wanting to get tight end Luke Stocker more involved in the offense. The senior NFL prospect got his first catch of the game on the first play of the Vols' first offensive series.

Stocker is a major talent, but the lack of an effective downfield passing game has harnessed him so far this season. It would be nice to see him break out against a Blazer defense which has struggled this year.

He got another catch on the first play of the second quarter, a first-down connection against double coverage.

The Stocker magic almost continued a couple plays later, but No. 88 was unable to haul in a pass in the end zone. He jumped a step too soon and got a little tripped up leaning back for the ball.

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Matt Simms zings a pass to Zack Rogers and he takes it the distance for a 72-yard touchdown with 2:15 left in the 1st quarter!

The pass looked to be in major trouble, but it found its way over the outstretched arms of two Blazer defensive backs and right into Rogers' arms, who used his burning speed to get to the end zone.

The 72-yard play is the Vols' longest of the season.

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Wow! UAB burns the Vols with a flea flicker and ties the game at 7 late in the first quarter!

The pass went into solid coverage, but Anthony Anderson couldn't corral the ball -- it went right through his hands and into the paws of the UAB receiver, who dove into the end zone for the score.

The Blazers have 92 pass yards and the first quarter isn't over yet. The Vols' secondary is looking porous, and when they are in good position, they aren't making plays.

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Tennessee holds the Blazers to a missed field goal, but goes three-and-out on its second series. A 53-yard punt by Chad Cunningham puts the ball at the UAB 29.

The Vols' offensive line struggled to open holes for Tauren Poole on that series, something it did with ease on the first drive. There will be as many as three true freshmen playing up front today -- JuJuan James, James Stone and Zach Fulton.

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UAB has taken the kickoff and done some damage on its first series of the game. The Blazers moved the ball 22 yards on their first three plays, with two runs and a pass.

We'll be seeing a two-quarterback system for UAB today. Bryan Ellis is the passing specialist; he's getting his first career start. David Isabelle is the runner -- he ran for 214 yards in the Blazers' first game and leads the team in rushing.

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Well, that was easy! The Vols march down the field on their opening drive, finishing in style with a Matt Simms-Denarius Moore touchdown connection to take a 7-0 lead with 10:59 remaining in the first quarter.

The play capped a 9-play, 59-yard drive. It's the first time this season the Vols have opened the game with a touchdown.

The UAB defense has been much-maligned so far this year, and it showed on the opening series. The Blazers gave UT all kinds of passing lanes and running holes. If the rest of the game is this easy, we'll see another UT-Martin-type blowout.

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Greetings from the Tom Elam Press Box at Neyland Stadium! I'm sitting on the 38 yard line with a beautiful view of a not-to-capacity crowd.

Tennessee has been looking for explosiveness from its return game, and it got it on the initial kick return of the game. David Oku took the opening kickoff past the UT 40 yard line, and now the Vols are driving.


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