KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — – Joe Milton III threw a career-high four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead No. 25 Tennessee to a 48-24 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
The game had several incidents late in the second quarter that led to skirmishes and six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Milton passed for 383 yards, his top production in six seasons – three for the Volunteers and three for Michigan. Ramel Keyton caught four passes for 122 yards and two TDs to help Tennessee (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) end a two-game losing streak.
The Commodores (2-10, 0-8) lost their final 10 games of the season. They came into the game averaging 237 yards of total offense in their last four games, but showed improvement (223 yards through three quarters) with AJ Swann at quarterback for the first time since late September.
Swann left with an injury late in the third quarter. Vandy finished with 306 yards of total offense
FACTS & FIGURES
When McCallan Castles caught a 10-yard TD pass from Milton, it was the seventh TD pass by a Tennessee tight end this season, the most for the Vols since 2007 when there were nine. Jacob Warren made it eight early in the second quarter. .. Swann made his first start since Sept. 23, when he was shut down because of injury and poor performance. … Late in the second quarter, with Tennessee on defense, tempers flared and the teams skirmished. Vandy coach Clark Lea was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct making it third-and-39 from the 35. On the next snap, a run, punches were thrown. Vandy’s bench cleared, but nobody was ejected. Offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were called. … Vols running back Jaylen Wright surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. … Tennessee freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava took over for Milton in the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt: After a 2-0 start, the Commodores closed the season with 10 straight losses. Vandy’s offense took several steps backward as the season wore on, giving coaches and players plenty of concern over the offseason.
Tennessee: Young, returning players gave indications that the future will be bright for the Vols. Quarterback Nico Iamaleava, running back Dylan Sampson and receiver Squirrel White are three skill players who will form the foundation of the 2024 offense.
Don’t expect the lopsided win over Vanderbilt to move the needle much. With four losses, still having a spot in the Top 25 – as well as the No. 21 spot in the College Football Playoff poll – was a bit surprising.