College Football: Tennessee 20, Vanderbilt 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Tennessee finally found a way to honor departing coach Phillip Fulmer.
The Volunteers kept alive his unbeaten streak when playing at Vanderbilt with a 20-10 win over the Commodores on Saturday. Fulmer lost only once in 16 games against the instate rival.
A choked up Fulmer, who is being forced out at Tennessee after 17 seasons, acknowledged the players’ efforts through what has been his worst season as coach.
The Volunteers (4-7, 2-5 SEC) have recorded only the second seven-loss season in program history, and after learning Nov. 3 of Fulmer’s departure they suffered a demoralizing homecoming loss to Wyoming, one of the worst teams in the FBS.
“This team has not had everything good happen to it that everyone around our program has liked, but they have never quit,” he said.
The win helped Tennessee avoid a school-worst eight losses for at least one week, and Vanderbilt (6-5, 4-4) missed a chance to capture its second five-win SEC season.
Eric Berry returned his seventh interception of the season for a touchdown in the victory. He holds the SEC’s single-season and career records with 265 interception return yards for the season and 487 for his career. His pick was the 12th of his career.
Tennessee’s offense, which ranked only ahead of Vanderbilt’s in the SEC with 267.1 yards per game, found life ó reaching the double digits for the first time since Oct. 18.
Eleven games into the season, Tennessee debuted two new faces at quarterback. Redshirt freshman B.J. Coleman took over on the third drive of the game, sharing snaps with Berry.
“I am proud of the way B.J. Coleman played today,” Fulmer said. “His youthfulness showed up today at different times, but he competed and played hard. He will only continue to get better.”
In the second quarter, Coleman and Lennon Creer combined for eight straight rushes for 57 yards. On third-and-1, Montario Hardesty broke through a pile at the line of scrimmage and trotted into the end zone to give Tennessee a 7-0 lead with 11:25 before halftime.
Hardesty broke a 27-yard run, his lonBy halftime, Tennessee had 122 yards of offense compared to Vanderbilt’s 25.