Tennessee 14, Vanderbilt 7
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Tennessee tailback Keith Davis rushed for 162 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run in the third quarter Saturday to lift the Vols to a 14-7 Southeastern Conference victory over Vanderbilt.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Tennessee, which began the season with a school record six-game losing streak. The win allowed the Vols, who have won their last five meetings with Vandy, to end their SEC season with a 3-4 mark.
Vanderbilt, a loser in eight of its last nine games, finished the season at 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the conference.
Davis capped a 67-yard drive on Tennessee’s first possession of the second half with his scoring run.
The touchdown pushed Tennessee into a 12-7 lead in a game which had both teams battling rain and gusting winds which reached 35 mph.
Davis took charge of the Tennessee offense at the start of the third quarter, carrying nine times for 59 yards on the decisive scoring march.
The Tennessee senior started the drive with a 14-yard gain and later gave the Vols a first down at the Vandy 5 with a 6-yard run.
After being stopped for no gain on first-and-goal, Davis swept his own right end for the deciding touchdown.
Davis was stopped short of the goal line on a 2-point conversion run, but Tennessee picked up two points on a safety later in the period.
Vandy handed the Vols the safety with 3:56 left in the third quarter when center John Short snapped the ball over the head of punter Jeff Owen and out of the end zone.
The Vols missed a 34-yard field goal attempt with 2:19 left in the third quarter and mishandled the snap on two fourth-quarter field goal attempts to keep the contest close.
Vanderbilt was never able to move past mid-field in the final 30 minutes.
Tennessee, which stopped Vanderbilt inside its own 5-yard line twice in the first quarter, got its offense on track briefly in the second quarter, taking a 6-0 lead when Greg Amsler scored from 2 yards out.
Chip McCallum’s extra point attempt was blow wide to the right.
Vandy grabbed a 7-6 lead with only 24 seconds left in the half when Eric Jones connected with Tony Pearcey for a 5-yard scoring pass and Johnny Clark was true on his extra point kick.
The Volunteer defense set up Tennessee’s first score by stopping Vandy inches short of a first down on a fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 40.
Tennessee drove to the Vandy 8-yard line and then sent the 227-pound Amsler over the top twice before the Vols tailback cracked the goal line from 2 yards away.
McCallum’s miss on the extra point attempt left Tennessee with a 6-0 edge with 5:12 left in the first half.
The Commodores fumbled the football away at the Tennessee 32 on their next possession, but quickly regained the football when Billy Cunningham intercepted a Jeff Francis pass at the Commodore 32.
Jones then directed Vanderbilt 68 yards in seven plays, tying the game with his scoring pass to Pearcey before Clark put the Commodores on top with his PAT kick.
The Commodores failed on fourth downs plays from the Tennessee 3-and 2-yard line on their first two possessions of the game.
Driving into the wind, Vandy decided against fourth-down field goal attempts and both times Jones saw passes fall incomplete in the end zone.
Tennessee saw a scoring opportunity go awry with 11:23 left in the second quarter when the wind blew a 22-yard field goal attempt by McCallum to the right.