Posted on September 1, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee– Jalen Hurd recovered a fumble in the end zone during the first overtime period to complete a 10-point comeback over Appalachian State and allow the Vols to escape Neyland Stadium with a season opening win on Thursday night.
No. 9/10 Tennessee trailed 13-6 entering the fourth quarter, but Josh Dobbs hit Josh Malone on a 67-yard pass down the left sideline. Malone had 81 yards on the 6 play, 92-yard drive which tied the game at 13 with 10:30 remaining in the game.
“At the end of the day we found a way to win the football game,” Head Coach Butch Jones said. “We had some players step up and make some critical plays. Just about anything and everything went wrong. We found a way to win, got it to overtime and had a clutch play to Josh Malone.”
The Vols (1-0) fell behind after Cameron Sutton muffed a punt on the first drive. Appalachian State recovered the ball and promptly marched 36 yards, capped by a five yard rushing touchdown by Taylor Lamb.
The Mountaineers pushed their advantage to 13-3 with 8:53 remaining in the second quarter as Lamb floated a ball down the right sideline to Marcus Cox. Cox caught the 33-yard score on a wheel route out of the backfield.
That score held until halftime, Appalachian State (0-1) outrushed the Vols, 82-56 in the first half and held possession for 16:30 as they controlled the tempo.
The Vols momentum changed early in the second half as Sutton picked off Lamb’s pass on the opening drive. Tennessee was able to turn the App State miscue into three points on Medley’s second field goal of the game. That brought the margin to seven entering the fourth quarter.
The Vols went to overtime for the second consecutive season opener, but Dobbs kept the opening drive of the extra session alive with a winding six-yard run on third and six. Three plays later, Dobbs dashed for the corner of the end zone, but lost the ball as he tried to extend into the end zone. Hurd recovered the put UT ahead.
Micah Abernathy, in his first career start, broke up Lamb’s pass in the end zone on fourth and five to secure the Tennessee’s seventh straight win and eighth straight season-opening victory.
The Vols will take on Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. College Gameday will be on hand at Bristol Motor Speedway to witness the contest expected to have the largest crowd to ever witness a college football game.