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Homecoming clash sees huge Vols win over outclassed UConn 59-3
by Tom Mabry, Knox Daily Sun UT Football Writer
November 5, 2023, 1:46 p.m.

ut vols beat uconn

The Division I College Football landscape is replete with big time programs and also littered with programs that want to see better days. The University of Connecticut has had incomparable successes in women and men’s basketball, but the same can hardly be said for their football team, having won only one game this year despite having a famous name coach. The Huskies of 2022 did go to a bowl game (Myrtle Beach) but this year’s team didn’t even know where to warm up before the Tennessee game.

Maybe UConn didn’t like being cannon fodder for Tennessee’s 2023 football homecoming game, but such is the case when you schedule a game against a resurgent Southeastern Conference team. Chances are that you might find your team far on the wrong end of the score.

ut vols marching band

The pre-game festivities served to awaken Tennessee in an early noon kickoff and Jaylen Wright’s 82 yard touchdown dash on the second play from scrimmage ignited the Vols to a convincing 59-3 win.

On a beautiful November afternoon where Pat Summitt’s legacy was honored with the “Summitt Blue” motif and another sellout crowd watched on “There’s No Place like Neyland” Day, Tennessee ended its non-conference season and improved its record to 7-2 with an impressive show of offensive and defensive fireworks.

Besides Wright’s 82 yard touchdown, Tennessee scored offensive touchdowns on two other big plays featuring quarterback Joe Milton III. First was a 60 yard pass to Ramel Keyton and the second an 83 yard pass to Squirrel White. Milton also scored on a six yard run in the second quarter. Connecticut threatened the end zone by getting down to the one yard line but only managed a first quarter field goal by Noe Reulas.

ut vols beat uconn

UConn’s offense led by quarterback Ta’ Quan Roberson was on the field 2/3 of the day but besides the field goal only managed to muster three touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Huskies, though, those TDs were scored by the Volunteer defense. Tyler Baron’s 24 yard scoop and run made the halftime score 35-3 after Charles Campbell’s 5th PAT. Jaylen McCullough opened the second half scoring with a 30 yard interception return followed closely by a 39 yard pick six by star linebacker Aaron Beasley. Homecoming Parade Marshal Al Wilson must have been very proud.

With a 49-3 lead, Tennessee turned to heralded backup QB Nico Iamaleava who turned in a solid performance, according to Coach Josh Heupel. Iamaleava recorded his first Vol touchdown pass to McCallan Castles and finished 5-9 passing for 86 yards and featuring a 25 yard run. Gaston Moore and Navy Shuler - son of Vol great Heath Shuler - also saw QB action and both performed well. Backup kicker Josh Turbyville ended Tennessee’s scoring with a 33 yard field goal.

ut vols tennessee walking horse

When asked post-game whether his team had now played a “complete game,” Heupel was quick to respond in the negative, saying there was more work to do. With ranked Missouri next week at Faurot Field and Georgia at Neyland on November 18, the next two weeks will prove the mettle of the 2023 team. Wins in both games (and closing out Vanderbilt) will most likely lead to a New Years Six Bowl, and losing them will most likely relegate the Vols to the Music City Bowl in Nashville. When Heupel began coaching at Tennessee, any bowl game was considered a triumph. Now with expectations higher, so too are the aspirations.

ut vols beat uconn


*In the “it never ceases to amaze me” category, teams like Connecticut who go out of their way to antagonize an opponent like Tennessee BEFORE the game and then wonder why they got their rear ends handed to them on the field are becoming commonplace. Antics like stomping on the home team’s logo or pre-game practicing on the home team’s side of the field may look great for antagonist optics on ESPN, but they rarely help the perpetrators. On Saturday, that arrogance was met with a superior arrogance and ended with a slaughter.

*The Pride of the Southland Alumni Marching Band turned out more participants than the current Band in an impressive halftime show featuring Tennessee native songstresses Dolly Parton and Tina Turner.

*Tennessee’s three defensive touchdowns was a school record. Tennessee playing four quarterbacks in the game was also a school record.

*Milton has thrown a touchdown pass in thirteen straight games he has played.

*UConn was paid $1.8 million for the privilege of getting thumped by Tennessee.

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