12:21 PM ET, September 7, 2013
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Tennessee forces 5 turnovers in 6-play span, crushes Western Kentucky
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton returned interceptions for touchdowns Saturday as Tennessee scored after each of Western Kentucky's five first-quarter turnovers in a 52-20 victory.
Western Kentucky (1-1) turned the ball over five times in a span of six snaps during the first quarter, turning an early 3-0 lead into a 31-3 deficit.
The Football Bowl Subdivision record for consecutive turnovers forced by a defense is seven straight series. Florida State had four fumbles and three interceptions in its first seven possessions of a 42-13 loss to Florida on Oct. 7, 1972.
Western Kentucky finished the day with seven turnovers, including five interceptions by quarterback Brandon Doughty, who was 17 of 34 for 222 yards with one touchdown pass. Brian Randolph picked off two Doughty passes in the end zone.
Tennessee's seven takeaways were its highest since Nov. 10, 1984, when it also forced seven turnovers in a 41-9 rout of Memphis. The Volunteers hadn't picked off as many as five passes in a game since a 56-21 victory over Kentucky on Nov. 20, 1999.
Western Kentucky's inability to take care of the ball cost the Hilltoppers an opportunity to beat a Southeastern Conference team for the second straight week. Western Kentucky had beaten Kentucky 35-26 in its first game under former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.
The Hilltoppers outgained Tennessee 236-84 and controlled the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half, yet they still trailed 31-17 at halftime because they already had six turnovers by then.
Doughty threw interceptions to Randolph, Coleman, Sutton and linebacker Brent Brewer. None of them ever had picked off a pass in a college game before Saturday. Brewer also forced a fumble.
Coleman's 23-yard touchdown return put Tennessee ahead 7-3 with 4:24 left in the first quarter. Doughty's next pass went directly to Sutton, whose 36-yard return made it 14-3. This marked the first time Tennessee had scored on two interception returns in the same game since Eric Gordon and Prentiss Waggner reached the end zone in a 52-14 rout of Mississippi on Nov. 13, 2010.
On the first play of Western Kentucky's next series, linebacker Dontavis Sapp stripped the ball from Keshawn Simpson and recovered the fumble at the Western Kentucky 28. That turnover led to Michael Palardy's 23-yard field goal.
The next time Western Kentucky snapped the ball, Brent Brewer forced an Andrews fumble that Max Arnold recovered and returned 23 yards to give Tennessee the ball at the Hilltoppers 12. Two plays later, Neal reached the end zone from 1 yard out.
After the Hilltoppers were called for an illegal block on the ensuing kickoff return, Corey Miller pressured Doughty into throwing a pass that was picked off by Brewer at the Western Kentucky 22. That turnover resulted in a Lane 8-yard touchdown run that put Tennessee ahead 31-3.
Western Kentucky threatened to make a game of it by scoring two touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the half, cutting Tennessee's lead to 31-17.
But the Hilltoppers couldn't get any closer.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-15||4-10|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|FG||07:55||Garrett Schwettman 37 Yd||3||0|
|TD||04:24||Justin Coleman 23 Yd Interception Return (Michael Palardy Kick)||3||7|
|TD||03:27||Cameron Sutton 36 Yd Interception Return (Michael Palardy Kick)||3||14|
|FG||01:20||Michael Palardy 23 Yd||3||17|
|TD||00:31||Rajion Neal 1 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||3||24|
|TD||14:38||Marlin Lane 8 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||3||31|
|TD||06:47||Leon Allen 1 Yd Run (Garrett Schwettman Kick)||10||31|
|TD||00:23||Nicholas Norris 6 Yd Pass From Brandon Doughty (Garrett Schwettman Kick)||17||31|
|TD||13:10||Rajion Neal 1 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||17||38|
|FG||08:42||Garrett Schwettman 33 Yd||20||38|
|TD||05:59||Rajion Neal 7 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick)||20||45|
|TD||09:56||Brendan Downs 1 Yd Pass From Justin Worley (Michael Palardy Kick)||20||52|
Western Kentucky is just 3rd team in last 10 seasons with 5 turnovers in a single quarter. The last was Jan. 2, 2010 when Oklahoma State had 6 in the 4th quarter against Ole Miss in the 2010 Cotton Bowl. The other one was UCF in the 3rd quarter on Oct. 6, 2007 with 5 at East Carolina.[+]
Teams With 5 Turnovers in a Quarter - Last 10 Seasons
Western Kentucky had 6 turnovers in the 1st half today. It's rather surprising that it only trailed Tennessee by 14 at the half. Of the previous five teams to turn the ball over a half dozen times in the 1st half, they went on to lose by an average of 35 points.[+]
Teams with 6 Turnovers in the 1st Half - Last 10 Seasons
ESPN Stats & Information