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(Saturday, September 28)
Final Score: Tennessee 31, South Alabama 24
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Brian Randolph intercepted Ross Metheny on 4th-and-goal with just under a minute to play as the Tennessee Volunteers scraped out a 31-24 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars at Neyland Stadium.
Rajion Neal rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to lead Tennessee (3-2). Justin Worley completed 20-of-36 pass attempts for 204 yards and two scores but was also intercepted three times. Jason Croom tied with four other players for the team lead with three receptions while totaling a team-best 50 yards.
Metheny's turnover late in the game was one of two interceptions he threw in the game for Western Kentucky (2-2). Metheny completed an even 50 percent of his pass attempts (21-of-42) for 233 yards but did add two scores and 67 yards on the ground. Shavarez Smith brought in four passes for 82 yards.
Metheny took off for a 32-yard touchdown run on South Alabama's first drive. Metheny set up the scoring play with a 28-yard completion to Smith on the previous play.
The Volunteers were forced to punt on their next possession but got the ball back when Metheny was intercepted by LaDarrell McNeil. The Volunteers took the ball over at the Jaguars' 23-yard line but couldn't get anything going and were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Michael Palardy.
Before the end of the first quarter the Volunteers would take the lead when A.J. Branisel brought in a two-yard touchdown pass from Worley.
A 29-yard field touchdown pass from Worley to Josh Smith early in the second quarter extended the Volunteers' lead.
Neal ripped off a 53-yard run early in the second quarter. The rush set up the Volunteers for a two-yard touchdown run two plays later.
After setting up a score in the second quarter, Neal scored himself early on in the third period on an 11-yard touchdown run.
The Jaguars finally ended the Volunteers' scoring run with a five-yard touchdown run by Metheny midway through the third quarter. For the first time in the game the Jaguars scored on back-to-back drives when Aleem Sunanon hit a 24-yard field goal later in the quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Jaguars brought themselves to within seven points of Tennessee with a three-yard touchdown run from Cris Dinham.
The Jaguars had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but after driving the ball to the Tennessee 8-yard line, Metheny was intercepted on 4th- and-goal, allowing the Volunteers to escape with the win.
Tennessee rushed for 278 yards on 37 carries for an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. The Volunteers finished with 482 total yards as compared to 392 from South Alabama.
09/28 16:34:10 ET