Scores

Final

Mississippi St 3

(2-5, 1-3 SEC)

Tennessee 34

(3-4, 1-3 SEC)

7:00 PM ET, October 18, 2008

Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN

1 2 3 4 T
MSST 0 3 0 03
TENN 0 6 7 2134

Top Performers

Passing: N. Stephens (TENN) - 136 YDS

Rushing: L. Creer (LT) - 17 CAR, 68 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Moore (TENN) - 1 REC, 45 YDS

Berry's record-breaking INT return helps Tennessee edge closer to .500

Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Eric Berry shattered a 60-year old Southeastern Conference record with a 72-yard interception return, and Tennessee avoided its worst league start in two decades with a 34-3 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.

Berry picked off a pass by Tyson Lee with 10:37 left in the fourth quarter and ran it back for a touchdown to put the Vols (3-4, 1-3 SEC) up 20-3.

With the return the sophomore became the SEC's career interception return leader with 397 yards, surpassing Mississippi's Bobby Wilson, who amassed 379 between 1946 and 1949.

The play ignited a Tennessee team that was off to its worst start under coach Phillip Fulmer and sent Mississippi State (2-5, 1-3) reeling further.

The teams entered the game nearly identical in many statistical categories, including total offense, scoring offense and total defense.

But the Vols outplayed the Bulldogs, picking up 275 yards on offense compared to Mississippi State's 189 and gaining 101 interception return yards.

Tennessee had little problem scoring after Berry's interception. Demetrice Morley picked off Lee a minute and a half later and ran 32 yards for a touchdown.

Mississippi State went three-and-out, and Tennessee responded by running Lennon Creer on every down of a 12-play, 51-drive. He scored on a 1-yard run to put Tennessee up 34-3 with just under 3 minutes left.

Creer finished with 68 yards on 17 carries.

The SEC's two lowest scoring teams lived up to the billing early, staying out of the end zone in the first half.

Two long Tennessee drives ended with Daniel Lincoln field goals of 36 and 28 yards when Nick Stephens failed to connect with his receivers. Lincoln also missed one from 34 yards.

Mississippi State's lone score came on a 10-play, 44-yard drive highlighted by a 12-yard pass from Lee to Henderson on third-and-11. Adam Carlson hit a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at 3 with 6:34 in the second quarter.

Anthony Dixon, who gained 107 yards a week earlier in the Bulldogs' upset of Vanderbilt, was held to only 46 on 15 carries.

Austin Rogers appeared to reach the end zone on a 21-yard pass from Stephens on third-and-10, but officials ruled him down inside the 1 on review.

Montario Hardesty flipped over the goal line pile one play later to give Tennessee a 13-3 lead with 10 minutes in the third quarter.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MSST
TENN
1st Downs1316
Total Yards189275
Passing120136
Rushing69139
Penalties3-241-8
3rd Down Conversions4-147-15
4th Down Conversions0-01-1
Turnovers30
Possession30:5529:05

Passing Leaders

Mississippi StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Lee12/231145.003
TennesseeC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Stephens10/201366.800

Rushing Leaders

Mississippi StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Dixon15463.1011
Ducre6193.208
TennesseeCARYDSAVGTDLG
Creer17684.0110
Foster11403.6019

Receiving Leaders

Mississippi StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
McRae22814.0018
Dixon3279.0016
TennesseeRECYDSAVGTDLG
Moore14545.0045
Taylor22311.5014

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERMSSTTENN
FG11:17Daniel Lincoln 36 Yd 03
FG06:34Adam Carlson 43 Yd 33
FG01:09Daniel Lincoln 28 Yd 36
THIRD QUARTERMSSTTENN
TD10:00Montario Hardesty 1 Yd Run (Daniel Lincoln Kick) 313
FOURTH QUARTERMSSTTENN
TD10:37Eric Berry 72 Yd Interception Return (Daniel Lincoln Kick) 320
TD09:10Demetrice Morley 32 Yd Interception Return (Daniel Lincoln Kick) 327
TD02:39Lennon Creer 1 Yd Run (Daniel Lincoln Kick) 334