Tennessee 41, Temple 20
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Roland Poles didn’t run far, but he ran far enough to get into the good graces of Tennessee coach Johnny Majors.
″I don’t know when I’ve been fonder of a player,″ Majors said after the 240-pound senior fullback scored three touchdowns Saturday to lead the No. 11 Vols to a 41-20 victory over Temple.
″Roland is as fine a leader, as far as his example on the practice field and in games, as any player I can recall,″ Majors said. ″I don’t know when I’ve been around a player that would lay it on the line every day, every play, from Monday through Saturday like he does.″
Poles gained just 19 yards on nine carries, but scored on runs of 1, 3 and 1 yards.
Tony Thompson rushed for 120 yards and scored twice, and Poles scored on runs of 1, 3 and 1 yards for Tennessee (5-1-2).
″This win is a stepping stone to the Notre Dame game,″ Thompson said. ″It was a good step from the Alabama game. After all, when you put that many points on the board, some things have got to be going right.″
Tennessee lost in its last game to Alabama, and plays Notre Dame next weekend.
Tennessee’s Andy Kelly rebounded from a poor performance against Alabama to complete 15 of 21 passes for 264 yards. His favorite target was Carl Pickens, who caught six passes for 144 yards.
″I thought Andy looked crisp. I thought it was good for his confidence,″ Majors said.
Tennessee took a quick 14-0 lead and appeared ready to make it a rout, but quarterback Matt Baker rallied Temple (4-4) before being forced from the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
Baker was hurt during a drive that culminated in Bob Wright’s field goal that cut Tennessee’s lead to 27-13 with 5:17 left in the third period. After that, it was all Volunteers.
Tennessee stretched its lead to 41-13 before the Owls scored on a 29-yard pass from Anthony Richardson to George Deveney with 36 seconds left.
Tennessee got its first score after Darryl Hardy downed a punt at the Temple 1 and the Owls couldn’t get out of the hole. Temple punted and Dale Carter returned it 38 yards to the Owl 16. Thompson scored from the 2 four plays later.
Tennessee took its 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter with a 57- yard drive capped by Thompson’s 16-yard run.
Wright’s 41-yard field goal early in the second quarter made it 14-3, and Temple recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Tennessee 34. But Baker was intercepted by Mark Fletcher on a fourth-and-5 pass, and Tennessee took over at its own 4.
The Vols drove 96 yards in 10 plays, making it 21-3 on Poles’ first touchdown. The big plays in the drive were a 36-yard pass from Kelly to Vince Moore, a 21-yard run by Thompson and a 23-yard gain on a fumbled pass that Tavio Henson picked up and advanced to the Temple 24.
Temple went 71 yards, helped considerably by Tennessee penalties, with Baker throwing 10 yards to Rich Drayton for the TD.
The Vols made it 24-10 at the half on Greg Burke’s 33-yard field goal with a minute left. Tennessee had a first and goal at the Temple 9 after a 58-yard pass from Kelly to Pickens. But a clipping penalty nullified a touchdown and a holding penalty pushed the Vols back to the Owls 27, forcing Tennessee to settle for the field goal.
Tennessee took the second-half kickoff and drove to the Temple 6, from where Burke kicked a 23-yard field goal.
Baker drove the Owls to the Tennessee 9 on the next series before hurting his ankle. Richardson replaced him and the drive stalled, and Wright kicked a 22-yard field goal with 5:17 left in the third period.
″Matty (Baker) is the heart and soul of this football team,″ said Owls coach Jerry Berndt. ″It really hurt us when Baker went out. He’s a winner. He’s got great competitive spirit.″
Temple faked a punt at midfield on its next possession but failed to get a first down. Tennessee took over at its 42 and Poles scored from the 3 seven plays later. Kelly passed for 40 yards in the drive, including 24 yards to Poles.
The Vols got their final touchdown after Kelly hit Pickens for 50 yards to the Temple 5. Poles got his third score three plays later.