Jeremy Pruitt gained his first signature win as a head coach, as visiting Tennessee stunned No. 21 Auburn 30-24 Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Volunteers (3-3, 1-2 SEC) snapped a school-record 11-game conference losing streak, their last SEC win coming against Missouri late in the 2016 season.
Tennessee repeatedly exploited Auburn’s secondary with deep passes and took advantage of several critical Auburn mistakes, the biggest being a fumble by Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, which
Alontae Taylor recovered for a touchdown to put the Volunteers up 27-17.
That came 51 seconds after Tennessee look its first lead of the day on a 25-yard pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Jauan Jennings.
A 42-yard completion to Josh Palmer set up Brent Cimaglia’s third field goal of the day — a 20-yarder — to make it 30-17.
Seth Williams caught a 14-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds left in the game to make it 30-24.
Auburn, which began the season with national championship hopes — which were boosted by a win over Washington — fell to 4-3 (1-3 SEC). With games remaining against Texas A&M, Georgia and
Alabama — the latter two on the road — the Tigers likely must win at Ole Miss to avoid a losing season.
The first half was a tale of big plays and miscues for both offenses, leading to a 17-13 Auburn lead at intermission.
Each team scored on long touchdown passes. The first was by Tennessee, when Guarantano found running back Ty Chandler wide open deep over the middle for a 42-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 10.
Auburn regained the lead when freshman Anthony Schwartz caught a short pass, spun out of the grasp of Bryce Thompson, then bolted untouched for a 76-yard touchdown.
Auburn had a chance to run out the clock to end the half but could not gain a first down. That left Tennessee time to work down and kick a field goal.
Auburn’s offense was crisp on the opening drive, as the Tigers marched 75 yards for a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Chandler Cox.
Stidham made some plays in the first half but looked frazzled at times. He overthrew Darius Slayton, who was wide open and would have scored with ease.
Stidham also panicked twice and was intercepted both times.
Tennessee’s miscues were more unforced errors: illegal substitution, false start and ineligible player downfield, which wiped out a 39-yard pass play.
—Field Level Media