Tennessee secures win over Virginia, 49-13

Coming off its best season in two decades Saturday, No. 12 Tennessee kicks off its 2023 campaign against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Saturday marks the start of year three for Tennessee’s Josh Heupel as head coach of the Volunteers.
Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 9:33 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2023 at 11:55 AM CDT
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Josh Heupel talks Tennessee's win over Virginia and new uniforms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Saturday marks the start of year three for Tennessee’s Josh Heupel as head coach of the Volunteers. It also marks the first time since the 2021 season that Joe Milton III is the undisputed starting quarterback for the Vols.

Coming off its best season in two decades Saturday, No. 12 Tennessee kicks off its 2023 campaign against the Virginia Cavaliers.

UT will look to improve to 3-0 in season openers under Heupel after defeating Ball State (59-10) in 2022 and Bowling Green (38-6) in 2021.

21 minutes prior to kick-off, the Cavs and Vols will hold a moment of silence to remember three Virginia players who were killed in a tragic shooting in Nov. 2022. Virginia will also place roses on their one-, 15-, and 41-yard lines to honor those players. Tennessee will wear those numbers as decals on their helmets.

Tennessee and Virginia start the season at noon ET from Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

1st quarter

Tennessee established the run game early against the Cavs.

On the opening drive, Tennessee goes for it on a 4th and 5 from the Cavs’ 9-yard line. Milton drops back and throws it to a wide-open Dylan Sampson who takes it to the checkerboard for six. This opening drive took under three minutes, and Tennessee leads it 7-0.

The Vols also set the tone early on defense forcing a three-and-out on the Cavaliers’ opening drive.

After completing a 4th down conversion on the previous drive, Tennessee goes for another 4th down try. This time from their own 29-yard line, but Virginia’s front put up a wall, and it’s a turnover on downs for Tennessee.

The Vols’ defense holds their own, and the Cavs settle for a 28-yard field goal attempt, but it’s wide right. Tennessee holds on to their early 7-0 lead.

With under two minutes left in the first quarter, it’s 3rd and 7 from inside Virginia territory, and Joe Milton gets sacked and it brings up a fourth down punt.

In the final play of the quarter, Tennessee fumbles and Virginia recovers.

2nd quarter

To start the second quarter Joe Milton goes deep to Ramel Kenton for the second time of the game and the duo couldn’t connect, again. Tennessee couldn’t convert on third down and it brought up the Vols third straight punt. 7-0 Tennessee.

On third down for Virginia, the Cavs are tackled for a loss of one yard that brings up a 4th and 3 from Tennessee’s 49-yard line with 9:52 remaining in the half.

Later in the quarter, Joe Milton waiting in the pocket and on the third attempt Milton and Keyton finally connected on a deep pass. Keyton hauls in a 41-yard pass from Milton.

A few plays later bring up another 4th down and in a short-yard situation, Tennessee converts to move the chains.

On 2nd and goal Dylan Sampson punches it in from three yards out for six. Tennessee extends its lead 14-0 with 4:41 remaining in the half.

Inside two minutes, Tennessee marches downfield. On a second down and goal try, Jabari Small uses his speed to get Tennessee inside the one yard line with 17 seconds remaining in the half. The run brings up a fresh set of downs. In a team effort, Joe Milton and Tennessee punches in a touchdown with six seconds remaining. Tennessee up 21-3.

3rd quarter

Tennessee opens the third quarter with a Joe Milton rushing touchdown. The Vols scored in 10 plays going 77 yards in just 3:10 minutes. 10:52 remained in the quarter.

On a fourth down try from the Cavaliers’ 30-yard line, Wesley Walker flies in for a tackle in the backfield, forcing a turnover on downs. At this point, Virginia is in the negative for rushing yards.

Tennessee takes over on offense. Inside the 5-yard-line Milton pitches it to Dylan Sampson for six. Tennessee took 2:26 minutes to take advantage of the defense’s fourth down stop. The score is 35-3 Tennessee.

From inside the Cavaliers 20-yard line, Paris Jones rushes in a 17-yard run for a score. Tennessee still led 35-10 with 3:05 remaining in the quarter.

4th quarter

Jacob Warren took in an 11-yard reception for the first score of the fourth quarter. Tennessee goes up 42-10. Tennessee took six plays for 27 yards in 2:03 to score another TD.

Dylan Sampson punches in a three-yard rushing touchdown to push Tennessee ahead 49-10. 11:06 is left in the final quarter. It’s the sophomore fourth touchdown of the day, one of which was a reception.