12:30 PM ET, September 3, 2005
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Volunteers looked far from the third-best team in the country Saturday.
The third-ranked Volunteers struggled with UAB all game and weren't assured of a victory until Darrell Hackney's fourth-down pass sailed over the head of Blazers receiver Lance Rhodes in the end zone with less than four minutes left.
Tennessee (1-0) then took over at their own 12 and ran out the clock on the 17-10 win.
"I'm not taking away from the fact that we got a win today, but it's hard to feel great about it because I thought we'd play better than we did on both sides," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said.
The Vols are off next week before playing back-to-back road games at Florida and LSU.
"If we don't play better we're going to struggle especially the next couple of weeks," Fulmer said. "So I'm expecting us to go back to work and correct our mistakes."
Hackney, who dodged defenders all day, was 27-of-38 for 282 yards with one interception. But it was the one pass he didn't complete that he was thinking about after the game.
"It was nice to come up here and show what we could do," Hackney said. "No one's satisfied with losing. We didn't make the most of our opportunities."
Coach Watson Brown said this week he thought Tennessee was physically one of the best teams he had seen since arriving at UAB, but the Blazers (0-1) were not intimidated and made the Vols' offense and defense look suspect.
"I don't feel like this was a moral victory," Brown said. "Would I have been surprised if they beat us good? No. But I'm not surprised we played them good."
The Vols have won 11 straight season openers, but this one wasn't easy. The Blazers kept Tennessee from scoring in the second half, but it wasn't enough.
"When you play somebody this good, you've got to make (plays)," Brown said. "You can't miss one. You've got to make them when you get the shots."
The game did not bode well for Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge, who won the starting job over senior Rick Clausen. Ainge threw an early touchdown pass, but was intercepted twice by Brandon Register, the second one setting up UAB's last chance. Clausen threw a TD pass and an interception.
Fulmer called Clausen's performance "one of the good things" and said he would have to evaluate the quarterback situation, adding that both would continue to play.
Clausen and Ainge rotated throughout the game, and Clausen appeared more calm and in control. Clausen finished 17-of-24 for 217 yards; Ainge went 5-of-14 for 57 yards.
"Wherever the quarterback derby or whatever you call it goes from here it doesn't matter. I'm just glad that we won," Clausen said. "Basically, the questions about the whole quarterback thing, I'd like them to stop."
Ainge was not available to speak to reporters.
UAB scored its only touchdown after an interception of Clausen in the fourth quarter.
Cory Anderson bobbled Clausen's pass and Kevin Sanders grabbed it for the Blazers. Hackney led UAB on an 86-yard drive capped by his 27-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Lindsey with 7:50 remaining.
Gerald Riggs had 23 rushes for 110 yards in his first game as Tennessee's featured ball carrier after mostly being a backup for three years.
Clausen led the Vols on a scoring drive in the final minutes of the first half for a 17-3 lead.
He completed a pass to Jayson Swain, who raced across the middle and then down the sideline for a 31-yard play to the UAB 12. C.J. Fayton made a driving catch in the end zone on the next play.
Ainge threw a 3-yard pass to Chris Hannon in the first quarter.
Register intercepted an overthrown pass, and UAB cashed in with a field goal in the second quarter.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... QB Darrell Hackney's fourth-down pass from the Tennessee 12 was off target in the end zone. The Vols took over and ran out the clock.
Gameball goes to... QB Rick Clausen (17-of-24, 217 yards). Erik Ainge won the starting job, but was clearly outperformed by the senior Clausen in the opener. Ainge finished 5-of-14 for 57 yards.
Stat of the game... 11: The Vols' streak of winning their season openers remains intact -- barely.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||9-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-1|
|FG||11:56||JAMES WILHOIT II 46 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 49 yards.
|TD||9:03||CHRIS HANNON 3 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 33 yards.
|FG||8:30||PARKER MULLINS 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 37 yards.
|TD||0:44||C.J. FAYTON JR. 12 YD PASS FROM RICK CLAUSEN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||7:50||REGGIE LINDSEY 27 YD PASS FROM DARRELL HACKNEY (PARKER MULLINS KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 86 yards.