No. 4 Tennessee 42, Houston 7
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Tennessee couldn’t summon the emotion again, but didn’t need it.
The No. 4 Vols weren’t completely flat in Saturday’s 42-7 victory over Houston, but the victory was a methodical, workmanlike affair compared to last week’s dramatic victory over Florida.
``The kids did a good job fighting through everyone patting them on the back all week, and when they weren’t doing that talking about Auburn,″ Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said, referring to the Vols’ opponent next weekend.
``I was really nervous about how they would go about their business, but the defense set a good tempo early and it was a really solid performance.″
Tee Martin led the way with four touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis rushed for 135 yards and scored twice. The Volunteers (3-0) had 11 penalties and two turnovers, but the Cougars (0-4) couldn’t take full advantage.
``Tennessee is a good, hard-nosed and clean team,″ said Cougars coach Kim Helton, whose team lost to the nation’s No. 4 team for the second week in a row. UCLA was ranked in that spot last weekend when it downed the Cougars 42-24.
``They’re a lot tougher than UCLA. Tennessee was very physical up front,″ Helton said.
Martin completed 14-of-19 for 234 yards with an interception, surpassing his passing output from the first two games combined. He had touchdown passes of 33, 16, 63 and 22 yards.
Lewis carried 13 times and scored on a 59-yard run and a 16-yard pass reception. The Vols gained 334 yards on the ground against a Cougars defense that came into the game ranked fourth in the nation against the run, giving up an average of just 42 yards.
``We couldn’t run with them,″ Helton said.
Tennessee had 589 yards, an average of 9.3 yards per play, to 239 for the Cougars.
The Vols played much of the game without standout middle linebacker Al Wilson, who suffered a separated shoulder. It was not immediately known how long he will be out.
Houston’s Jason McKinley was 21-of-28 for 200 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Scott Regimbald. Jerrian James caught 11 passes for 105 yards.
Martin’s passing numbers got a nice boost from the Vols receivers and running backs. The 63-yard touchdown to Shawn Bryson, the 16-yarder to Lewis and the 22-yarder to Peerless Price were all short throws the receivers turned into big plays.
The Vols led 21-0 at halftime. After Houston cut it to 21-7 on the opening drive of the second half, Lewis answered with a 59-yard scoring run to help the Vols begin pulling away.
Martin drove the Vols 72 yards with the opening possession to score on a 33-yard TD pass to Cedrick Wilson.
Two possessions later, Tennessee went 83 yards in 12 plays to score on a short swing pass to Lewis, who got a great block downfield from Price and raced 16 yards untouched to make it 14-0.
The Vols went up 21-0 on their next possession when Bryson, the fullback, took another short screen pass on a second-and-25, cut back across the field and scored from 63 yards with 10 minutes left in the half.
Houston marched 80 yards with the second-half kickoff, the points coming on McKinley’s pass to Regimbald.
After an exchange of punts, Lewis swept right end, broke two or three tackles and went 59 yards to make it 28-7 midway through the third quarter.
Martin’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Price came with 10:56 left to play and ended the night for Tennessee’s starters. The Vols got a late touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Burney Veazey to John Finlayson, a backup tight end.
Tennessee also had a late score called back on a holding penalty, and ended the game taking a knee at the Houston 1.