Jacksonville Sports Day

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: Tennessee Comes To Town and Wins 50th Bowl Game

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tennessee won its first bowl game since the 2008 Outback Bowl as the Vols dominated Iowa, 45-28, in the 70th TaxSlayer Bowl on Friday afternoon at EverBank Field. 

The victory give the Vols their first winning season since 2009 as Tennessee closes the campaign with a 7-6 record in Butch Jones’ second season on Rocky Top.

The win came in Tennessee’s 50th bowl game, fourth-most of any program in college football history as the Vols are now 26-24 overall in postseason. The 26 wins are the sixth-most of any program all-time.

Tennessee scored its most points in a bowl since beating Michigan 45-17 in the 2002 Citrus Bowl. The 45 points are the second-most in a bowl in Tennessee history. The six touchdowns scored by the Vols ties the school record for most touchdowns in a bowl game, previously set on three occasions at the 1994 TaxSlayer Bowl, 1997 Citrus Bowl and the 2002 Citrus Bowl.

Sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs completed his first seven pass attempts of the game and finished 16-of-21 for 129 yards with one passing touchdown. He also ran for 76 yards and an additional two scores on the ground. Dobbs finished with 205 total yards and moved to 4-1 as the team’s starting quarterback this season.

Dobbs was named the TaxSlayer Bowl MVP. With two rushing touchdowns, Dobbs became the first Tennessee quarterback to record multiple rushing touchdowns since Casey Clausen did so with two in the 2002 Citrus Bowl.

Freshman tailback Jalen Hurd ran for 122 yards, the most by a Vol since Travis Henry ran for 180 in the 2001 Cotton Bowl against Kansas State. Hurd scored two rushing touchdowns in the same game for the first time in his career as he gained the fourth 100-yard game of his freshman campaign.

Junior receiver Von Pearson had a career-best seven catches for 75 yards including a 19-yard score to end the first half. His seven catches were the most in a bowl since Gerald Jones had nine in the 2010 Music City Bowl vs. North Carolina.

The Vols defense limited Iowa to 421 total yards, including 177 passing yards. Sophomore linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin led Tennessee with a career-high 13 tackles. LaDarrell McNeil had an interception to go along with seven tackles.

The Vols came out strong and took control of the game, fulfilling Butch Jones’ promise to Team 118 that if they continued to believe and play with passion, good things would come to them. It did on Friday in the form of a bowl championship.

Tennessee jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns by Hurd and a 49-yard halfback pass from Marlin Lane to Vic Wharton to make it a three-score lead.

The Vols scored on their first four drives of the game — for the first time since Butch Jones’ debut game with the Vols to open the 2013 season. Dobbs finished off the fourth drive with an 8-yard rush with 12:02 left in the first half. That put Tennessee up 28-0 in a bowl for the first time since taking a 38-0 lead in the 2005 Cotton Bowl.

Iowa broke the shutout as Mark Weisman ran in from three yards out with 3:43 left in the first half to make it 28-7 in favor of Tennessee.

Dobbs closed the first half with a 19-yard TD strike to Von Pearson with 21 seconds left. That put Tennessee ahead 35-7 at the half. The 35 points were the most by Tennessee since their led Virginia Tech, 35-10, at the half in the 1994 Gator Bowl.

Dobbs accounted for his third score of the day with an 11-yard rush in the third quarter as Tennessee continued to control the action, leading 42-7 after the third.

Iowa’s Weisman scored his second touchdown of the day to make it 42-14 early in the fourth quarter.

With 8:31 left in regulation, Aaron Medley kicked his first field goal of the game from 28 yards out to make it 45-14.

To end game scoring, Iowa earned the final two touchdowns. The first came from a 31-yard pass from Beathard to Hamilton Ray. Their final score came with just 20 second left from an 18-yard pass to Matt VandeBerg. 

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