Vols beat Auburn 30-24 to end SEC drought

Vols beat Auburn 30-24 to end SEC drought
Auburn's Anthony Schwartz breaks free for a 76-yard touchdown after a catch in the first half. Tennessee at Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics (Source: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - The Tennessee Vols snapped an 11-game SEC losing streak by beating Auburn 30-24 on Saturday. The victory was Tennessee’s first SEC win since 2016.

Auburn falls to 4-3 overall, and 1-3 in the SEC. The Vols moved to 3-3, and 1-2 in the SEC.

“I think the big picture of the deal was the three turnovers and one of those turnovers led to a touchdown. That was really the difference in the game. Tennessee didn’t turn the ball over and they had a good third-down plan. They were almost 50 percent on third down, and their quarterback made some plays with the receivers and some one-on-one situations as far as that goes," said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.

Auburn held a 17-13 halftime lead over Tennessee, surviving two interceptions by Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Auburn scored its first touchdown of the second half with 37 seconds left in the game when Stidham connected with receiver Seth Williams.

The Vols recovered an onside kick to seal the win.

Auburn ended the game with 448 total yards to 396 for the Vols, who threw for 328 yards. Tennessee was 10 of 19 on third downs. Stidham had 322 yards in the air on 46 attempts.

The Vols scored 20 unanswered points over three quarters to send Auburn’s season spiraling, and the Vols on the mend.

Tennessee dominated the third quarter, scoring on a touchdown pass and a recovered Stidham fumble.

Stidham was sacked with about six minutes left in the game to snuff out an Auburn comeback.

Vol quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw for more than 300 yards in torching the Auburn secondary. Auburn’s front line all but eliminated the Vol running game, forcing Tennessee to go to the air where the Vols had success.

Senior Auburn back Chandler Cox began the day’s scoring on a toss sweep from inside the 5-yard line to cap a 14 play, 75-yard drive as Auburn opened the 11 a.m. kickoff with a touchdown to ease a restless home crowd.

The Tigers converted three third downs on the drive. The Vols responded to make the score 7-3 with a 42-yard field goal to end an impressive drive that mixed runs and short passes.

The second Auburn drive opened up with a Stidham completed pass, and ended with a 17-yard field goal after a first and goal. The drive totaled nine plays and covered 73 yards.

Guarantano completed a crucial third down toss of 30 yards to keep a Vol drive alive as the first quarter concluded with Auburn ahead 10-3, but Tennessee in Auburn territory.

The Vol drive stalled on Auburn’s 31 where the Tigers blocked the field goal. The ball went out of bounds in Tennessee territory. A swing pass to Ryan Davis started the Auburn drive but Stidham, under pressure, threw an interception, caught by the Vol’s Bryce Thompson.

The Vols converted another third down on a pass to Auburn’s 43 where Juan Jennings hauled in a high Guarantano toss.

Tennessee tied the game on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Guarantano to all-purpose back Ty Chandler.

The next Auburn possession started with confusion on the kickoff return and a first down inside the 15. Auburn faced third and long when Stidham hit Seth Williams for a huge first down.

The drive ended on the Vol side of the field with Stidham’s second interception on a reverse pass.

The ensuing Vol drive started with two running plays for no gain and then a sack forced a Tennessee punt.

After a running play by JaTarvious Whitlow, who is nursing a hurt shoulder, Stidham found speedy receiver Anthony Schwartz on a short pass that became a 76-yard touchdown when Schwartz outran the Vol defensive backfield.

Auburn called a time out with 1:47 left in the half on the next Tennessee drive but a Vol punt landed inside the Tigers' five. An Auburn punt left the Vols on their side of midfield.

The Vols drove into Auburn territory where Brent Cimaglia tried and made a 45-yard field goal to end the first-half scoring.

Auburn had 12 first downs to eight at the half for the Vols. Stidham threw for 182 yards in the first stanza with one touchdown and two picks. The Tigers had 106 yards rushing at the half to 39 for Tennessee.

Vol signal caller Guarantano had 155 yards at intermission.

The Vols received the ball to start the second half and Guarantano hit a big third down pass to receiver Marquez Callaway.

A fourth and short run by Tennessee failed to gain, and Auburn took over at its own 39. The Vols then forced Auburn to punt.

The Vols took over inside their own 20 and on a third and 10 gained a first down on a wide receiver screen.

Guarantano again on third down completed a long toss to Josh Palmer to the Auburn 25.

Again on third down, Guarantano hit a touchdown pass to receiver Jauan Jennings to put the Vols up 20 to 17 after the PAT on the 86 yard, 12-play drive.

Auburn safety Jeremiah Dinson was ejected for a hit on the Vol quarterback that was called targeting.

Auburn began its second drive of the half with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

The Vols took a 27-17 lead when the Vol defense picked up a Stidham fumble and after a huge scramble took the ball into the end zone with 2:34 left in the third quarter.

Whitlow was escorted off the field after getting shaken up while diving for the ball on Stidham’s third turnover.

Auburn began its last possession of the third quarter on its own 25. A Stidham to Ryan Davis pass, followed by a toss to Williams took the Tigers into Vol territory.

A third and five at the Tennessee 35 failed to gain, and Anders Carlson missed a 54-yard field goal.

The ensuing Vol drive resulted in a Tennessee punt, and Auburn beginning a crucial fourth quarter drive inside its own 10.

An Auburn punt left Tennessee’s offense starting at midfield.

A Vol field goal made it 30-17 with 9:04 to play.

A Stidham pass in the fourth quarter went through Darius Slayton’s hands inside the Vol 5-yard line before Stidham was sacked with about six minutes left in the contest to end the Tiger threat.

Auburn’s last drive ended in a touchdown but an onside kick failed.

The Tigers and Vols hadn’t met since 2013, and it’s the first time since 2008 they’ve played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn leads the all-time series with the Vols, 28-22-3, and had won the last six.

The Vols next host top-ranked Alabama on Oct. 20.

Auburn travels to take on Ole Miss for an Oct. 20 game in Oxford.

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