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No. 9 Tennessee rallies past stubborn Austin Peay

Tennessee tight end McCallan Castles Tennessee tight end McCallan Castles - The Canadian Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Joe Milton III had a 6-yard touchdown run late in the first half and threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Ramel Keaton early in the second to help No. 9 Tennessee beat FCS foe Austin Peay 30-13 on Saturday night.

The Volunteers (2-0) won their 10th straight at home as they prepare for their Southeastern Conference opener next week at Florida. The Governors fell to 0-2.

Milton broke a 6-6 tie with 15 seconds left in the first half with the 6-yard scoring run. Then, 1:30 into the second, Milton hit Keaton for some breathing room.

Austin Peay played a wide-open, up-tempo, free-wheeling game. The Governors converted on fourth down three times in the first half — twice with runs, one of them a 45-yard burst by quarterback Mike DiLiello — and once by penalty.

They came up empty on fourth down twice in the third quarter.

Tennessee's Jaylen Wright rushed for 118 yards. Vols linebacker Aaron Beasley had five tackles for loss.

DiLiello completed 29 passes for 260 yards and a TD.

When Austin Peay held Tennessee without a touchdown in the first quarter, it ended a streak of 20 consecutive quarters — dating to the fourth quarter of last year's loss to Georgia — in which the Vols had scored a TD.

The game started 30 minutes late because of a weather delay.


Tennessee's crowd of 101,915 was the seventh consecutive sellout — the longest streak since 2006.


Austin Peay: Austin Peay’s wide-open offense, which didn’t have time to function against the Vols, showed signs of being able to execute against a normal FCS defense. Size and speed deficiencies were too much to overcome.

Tennessee: The wild card in the offense could likely be Cooper Mays. The senior center had knee surgery during summer camp and missed the first two games of the season. Because of his absence, which caused several linemen to play out of their normal position, the run game was stifled a bit and quarterback Joe Milton had trouble getting into a rhythm. Mays should be back next week for the trip to Florida, allowing a new sense of stability to come to the trenches.


The Governors were aggressive and the Vols struggled to make good things happen. Though it wasn’t a loss, it will make the Vols’ status as a Top 10 team much more precarious as they prepare to roll into The Swamp next weekend with a huge target on their back for a bunch of Gators who will be hungry.


Austin Peay: Host East Tennessee State on Saturday.

Tennessee: At Florida on Saturday.