It wasn’t as dominant as some hoped it would be, but a win was a welcome sight for Tennessee after a rough stretch.
Jarrett Guarantano completed 16 of 21 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown to lead Tennessee to a 14-3 nonconference win over Charlotte on Saturday in what was a surprising low-scoring affair.
The Volunteers (4-5) snapped a two-game losing streak and won for just the second time in their last six games. Charlotte (4-5) lost for the second time in three weeks.
Tennessee looked like it would turn the game into a blowout in the first quarter when it scored a pair of touchdowns.
Marquez Callaway returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown with 7:42 remaining in the first quarter to give the Volunteers a 7-0 lead. Tennessee increased its lead to 14-0 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Guarantano to Josh Palmer.
After that, the game turned into a defensive struggle.
Charlotte cut its deficit to 14-3 with 17 seconds until halftime on a 20-yard field goal by Jonathan Cruz.
The second half was dominated by the defenses, as no points were scored after halftime.
Statistically, Charlotte actually got the better of the Volunteers.
Charlotte had 13 first downs to Tennessee’s 10, outgunned Tennessee in total yards, 244-192, and outrushed Tennessee, 92-20.
The one thing Tennessee did well was take care of the ball, since Charlotte had the game’s only turnover, and that came on an interception late in the fourth quarter.
Palmer caught four passes for 71 yards to flank Guarantano’s effort for Tennessee.
Charlotte was led by running back Ben LeMay, who rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries, a yardage total that was more than four times as much as what Tennessee ran for as a team.
Both teams will need to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible.
Charlotte plays Marshall, Florida International and Florida Atlantic to finish the season, while Tennessee plays Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt in its final three games.
—Field Level Media