COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Hendon Hooker pitched for three touchdowns and ran for another as Tennessee routed Missouri 62-24, scoring touchdowns on its first six possessions on Saturday.
Hooker completed 15 of 19 passes for 225 yards and rushed 14 times for 74 yards. He wasn’t the only volunteer who bolstered his stats against a besieged defense. Tiyon Evans rushed 15 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Tennessee (3-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) racked up 677 total yards and never made a punt.
The Volunteers took a 28-3 lead in the first quarter without ever needing to play a third down. Among the many highlights was Evans’ 92-yard touchdown run in which he punched through a massive hole on the right side and was left untouched by a Missouri defenseman.
The Tigers (2-3, 0-2 SEC) entered the game 129th out of 130 FBS teams in rushing defense, allowing an average of 269 rushing yards per game. Tennessee had 275 rushing yards in the first half alone as it took a 45-10 lead and finished with 452 rushing yards.
Tennessee’s defense contained Missouri’s big-game threat Tyler Badie, holding the running back 41 yards on 21 carries, and intercepted quarterback Connor Bazelak twice. The best moment for Missouri came on special teams when Kris Abrams-Draine returned a 100-yard kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Take it away
Tennessee: Hooker, a transfer graduate from Virginia Tech, lost the preseason quarterback battle to Joe Milton, but since becoming the starter in Game 3 he’s grown into a solid player. Hooker guided the volunteers to the scores on their first nine runs. He delivered touchdown passes of 35 yards to JaVonta Payton, 35 yards to Velus Jones Jr. and 24 yards to Cedric Tillman.
Missouri: It was a disastrous start to the tenure of freshman defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, a former NFL head coach. After using a 4-2-5 formation in the first four games, Wilks started the game 3-3-5 against the Volunteers, but Tennessee wasn’t bothered in the least by the new look. Missouri’s defensive line and linebackers couldn’t get out of blocks, allowing Tennessee’s running backs to get into high school with ease.
Tennessee: The Volunteers face South Carolina at home on October 9.
Missouri: The Tigers meet North Texas at home on October 9.
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