In the season opener for both teams and the Cavaliers’ first game in 294 days, the 12th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers thrashed Virginia 49-13 on Saturday behind two touchdown throws from Joe Milton III and two more scores on the ground.
Before kickoff, Tennessee and Virginia observed a minute of silence in honor of the Cavaliers’ first football game since a tragedy last November that claimed the lives of three players. The late Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry had stickers with their numbers on the back of their helmets, which the Vols also wore.
Mike Hollins, a running back for Virginia who required multiple operations after being hurt in the shooting, participated. In total, he gained 0 yards on 4 carries and 1 yard on 1 receptions.
In the first contest of this series since the 1991 Sugar Bowl, the Vols increased their overall record over Virginia to 4-1.
Tennessee opened with a touchdown and never looked back. Just before halftime, Milton scored a 1-yard run to put the Vols ahead 21-3. A 9-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Sampson capped Tennessee’s opening possession. Three of his touchdown runs were for only three yards.
James Pearce Jr. recorded two sacks in the first half for Tennessee’s defense, which last season was 90th nationally in terms of yards allowed per game (405.3). With four sacks and a 499-202 advantage in total offensive yards, the Vols won the game.
After transferring from Monmouth, Tony Muskett began for Virginia and discovered very immediately that the Southeastern Conference defense is very different from the Colonial Athletic Association. Before being late substituted, he completed 9 of 17 passes for 94 yards.
Tony Elliott, the Virginia coach, took a shot on fourth-and-1 at the Cavs 34 with Tennessee leading 28-3. Muskett was thrown down, losing four yards. Sampson raced for a touchdown to increase the lead after six plays.
After an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Warren early in the fourth put it 42-10, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel withdrew Milton. After being replaced by five-star recruit Nico Iamaleava, Milton finished with 201 passing yards and 33 rushing yards.