(Photo credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
On the game's first snap, Tennessee's Joe Milton III bolted 81 yards untouched to the checkered end zone and the No. 23 Volunteers were on their way to a 45-14 romp over visiting UTSA Saturday in Knoxville.
Coming off a loss at Florida last week, the Volunteers (3-1) dominated the first half, rolling to a 31-0 lead.
Milton, a target of criticism after the Florida defeat, rebounded with 18 completions in 31 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee thrived on the ground despite an injury to Jaylen Wright, who entered as the second-leading rusher in the SEC but sat out the second half after carrying for 16 yards on four rushes.
Dylan Sampson carried the load in reserve, rushing 11 times for a career-high 139 yards and two touchdowns. Jabari Small added 61 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Injury-riddled UTSA (1-3) was without its Heisman preseason candidate, quarterback Frank Harris (turf toe). The Roadrunners had the ball in Volunteers' territory only once in the first half and the drive ended at the Tennessee 19 on a fourth-down incompletion.
Owen McCown came off the bench and sparked the Roadrunners, completing his first 10 passes to fuel touchdown drives on UTSA's first two possessions of the second half. McCown finished with 18 completions in 20 attempts for 170 yards and one interception.
McCown, a Colorado transfer and the son of former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, got UTSA on the board with a 3-yard scoring pass to Joshua Cephus. Then he fired a 43-yard touchdown pass to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg to cut Tennessee's lead to 31-14.
But Tennessee resumed control in the fourth quarter, getting touchdown runs from Sampson and Small.
The Volunteers scored on their first two possessions of the game. After Milton raced 81 yards on a read-option play, Sampson followed with a 10-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
On Tennessee's first two possessions of the second quarter, Milton finished quick-strike drives with touchdown passes of 18 yards on a crossing route to Kaleb Webb and 48 yards to Ramel Keyton.
But after hitting on 14 of his first 16 passes, Milton suddenly went cold, completing just one of his next 12 attempts.
--Field Level Media