7:00 PM ET, September 25, 2004
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
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 198 yards.
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 the sidelines.
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 last week.
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 didn't matter.
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 touchdowns.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||4-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|TD||2:44||JULIUS COSBY 33 YD PASS FROM MATT KUBIK (DANIEL HORWEDEL KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 97 yards.
|TD||2:16||CEDRIC HOUSTON 37 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 73 yards.
|TD||0:32||RYAN MOATS 37 YD RUN (DANIEL HORWEDEL KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||13:01||C.J. FAYTON 13 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||7:09||BRET SMITH 60 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||0:21||CEDRIC HOUSTON 27 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 56 yards.
|TD||6:42||BRET SMITH 4 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 63 yards.
|FG||5:09||DANIEL HORWEDEL 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||1:41||ROBERT MEACHEM 24 YD PASS FROM BRENT SCHAEFFER (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.