Nov 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton III (7) rolls out to pass against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at FirstBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 10 Tennessee uses ground game to demolish Vanderbilt

Jaylen Wright ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries to help No. 10 Tennessee close its regular season with a 56-0 rout of host Vanderbilt on Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn.

The victory, coupled with multiple upsets of teams ranked ahead of the Volunteers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) in the College Football Playoff poll, could put them in a better position to land a New Year’s Six Bowl or even keep very slim hopes of making the CFP alive.

The Commodores (5-7, 2-6) lost to Tennessee for the fourth consecutive time.

Most of Wright’s yards came on touchdown runs of 83 and 50 yards.

Jabari Small also scored two touchdowns and ran for 79 yards on 11 carries as the Volunteers leaned heavily on their running game in the absence of injured starter Hendon Hooker, who was lost for the season last week with a torn ACL.

Joe Milton III, who completed 11 of 21 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, started and connected with Jalin Hyatt for 61 yards to the Vanderbilt 3-yard line on the third play of the game. The play set up a short touchdown run by Small on the ensuing play.

Even with three offensive linemen injured, the Volunteers ran for 362 yards. Dylan Sampson contributed 131 yards on 12 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Even tight end Princeton Fant found his way into the end zone running the ball with a 1-yard dive into the end zone late in the first quarter.

Dee Williams made an impact on special teams when he fielded a punt and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to put the Vols ahead 21-0 with 8:09 left in the first half.

AJ Swann played for the first time since Nov. 5 and replaced starter Mike Wright at quarterback on Vanderbilt’s third drive of the second half after Wright completed only 7 of 13 passes for 28 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Swann didn’t have any more success, as he completed 11 of 17 passes for 79 yards. Ray Davis ran for 60 yards and Wright totaled 50 rushing yards.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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