KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- After a dramatic win a week ago,
Tennessee got a breather before diving into a tough stretch of
Southeastern Conference games.
Erik Ainge threw three touchdown passes and Cedric Houston ran
for 160 yards and two more scores, leading the Volunteers (No. 8 ESPN/USAToday; No. 11 AP) to
a 42-17 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
"Last week we won the game and didn't play too well,"
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said, referring to a 30-28 victory
over Florida last week. "We're still trying to put it together."
Tennessee (3-0) started slow but broke open the game in the
second quarter in an easy non-conference win between a crucial
victory over Florida last week and a meeting with No. 9 Auburn next
week. Then the Vols travel to Georgia for their first road game.
Tennessee relied mostly on the run and rolled up 347 yards on
the ground with Gerald Riggs adding a career-high 116 yards on 16
carries. He and Houston were the first two players to run for more
than 100 yards each since James "Little Man" Stewart and Jay
Graham against Vanderbilt in 1994.
"There were a lot of places out there to run," Houston said.
"I just had to get downfield and run hard and find a hole."
Ainge again got the bulk of the playing time while alternating
with fellow freshman Brent Schaeffer. Ainge finished 10-of-15 for
The Bulldogs (2-2) lost starting quarterback Donald Allen at the
end of his first series with an injury. Matt Kubik, who started the
season opener, replaced him and was intercepted twice.
Louisiana Tech officials would not disclose the specifics of
Allen's injury, but his right arm was in a sling while he sat on
Tennessee joined a number of teams that have had trouble
stopping Louisiana Tech's Ryan Moats, who came into the game as the
nation's leading rusher at 198.3 yards a game. Moats had 81 yards
in a half at Miami last week.
With fresh legs, he finished with 97 yards on 21 carries,
including a 37-yard touchdown run.
"Moats had one good run, but Tennessee did shut him down,"
Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said.
Tennessee's defense clamped down after halftime. Louisiana Tech
had more rushing yards in the first half (73) than it totaled for
the game (66).
The Vols had to adjust without starting middle linebacker Kevin
Simon, who was lost for the season after tearing a knee ligament
Linebacker Jason Mitchell said the Vols can't play the way they
did in the first half Saturday next week against Auburn.
"I think we just got too excited. We let all the emotion and
adrenaline get the best of us, and if we can control that, well be
OK." he said.
In the end, the Bulldogs were simply outmanned, and Tennessee
didn't need last-second dramatics to win.
Tennessee's James Wilhoit had a less stressful game than a week
ago, but the clock was still having problems at Neyland Stadium.
Wilhoit missed an extra-point kick against Florida that would
have tied the game and then made a 50-yard field goal with 6
seconds left. He made all six PATs but missed a 44-yarder that
would have padded the victory on Saturday.
Against Florida, the officials started the clock at the wrong
time after a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against
the Gators, giving Tennessee more time at the end of the game.
On Saturday, the game clock quit working in the third quarter,
and the officials kept the time on the field. But in this game, it
Louisiana Tech, playing in the middle of a nonconference
schedule that concludes with Auburn, led twice early in the game.
Tennessee tied it at 14 with Ainge's 13-yard TD pass to C.J. Fayton
in the second quarter and scored three more touchdowns before the
Bulldogs added a final field goal.
Bret Smith hauled in passes of 60 and 4 yards from Ainge for two
Schaeffer, who started for the third time, saw his playing time
decline again. He only played one series in the second half against
Florida, then played the first two series against Louisiana Tech
and not again until the third quarter when he added a 24-yard
touchdown pass to Robert Meachem.