Sophomore receiver Marquez North hauled in two touchdowns as the Vols posted a 34-19 win over Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon. In front of a home crowd of 99,538, Justin Worley continued his efficiency beginning the game 9-of-9 and finished the game going 22-for-38 for 247 yards and three total touchdowns. One of those touchdowns marked his first career rushing touchdowns. He connected with North on both of his passing scores. The Vols first four scoring drives of the day went for 70 yards or more. Tennessee went 6-of-7 on trips to the red zone and piled up 415 yards of offense.
Worley connected with a total of nine different receivers. Leading the receiving group was Von Pearson with 71 yards on four catches prior to suffering an injury. North racked up 68 yards on four catches.
Jalen Hurd led the running back group with 83 yards and tallied his first rushing touchdown as a collegian. Marlin Lane also ran for 54 yards on 13 attempts.
The Tennessee defense limited Arkansas State's offense all game holding them to go 4-for-17 on third down conversions. A.J. Johnson led the defense with nine tackles. Behind him LaDarrell McNeil had seven tackles, four unassisted. Both Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Brian Randolph had six tackles apiece. Reeves-Maybin also recorded two tackles for a loss.
Junior college transfer Owen Williams had a breakout performance with two sacks as part of his five tackles for a loss of 12 yards.
On their first drive of the game, Arkansas State took the early lead after a four-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Fredi Knighten. The extra point was missed by Luke Ferguson. With the offense back on the field, Worley completed the longest completion of his career for 56 yards to Pearson. The Vols were limited to a field goal, but narrowed the Red Wolves lead, 6-3.
The Orange Swarm came back to work and stopped ASU on their first third down conversion attempt of the game. Starting the action Marlin ran had an 18-yard run followed by a first down pass to Jason Croom for 11 yards. Hurd ran the ball twice for 16 yards, moving the Vols back into the red zone where Hurd notched his first rushing score. Ending the first quarter, the Vols stopped ASU with a sack by Reeves-Maybin, resulting in a loss for three yards.
With the ball in hand to begin the second quarter, Worley continued to show control with three throws for at least 18 yards each to Josh Smith, North and Howard, respectively. Back in the red zone, Worley connected with North for a touchdown, the second of North's career. Aaron Medley kicked for the extra point to make it 17-6.
After starting the game 0-of-4 in third down conversions, the Red Wolves were successful in a fourth down conversion on a fake punt and moved into the red zone. Knighten connected to Tres Houston for a 9-yard touchdown, but failed on the two-point conversion.
The Vols continued their scoring momentum with Worley connecting with North again for a 24 yard pass. Back in the red zone, Josh Smith hurdled over ASU's defensive back Rocky Hayes for a 12 yard gain before Worley ran five yards for his first career touchdown.
Just four minutes into the second half, Arkansas State was set to return a short punt but committed a fumble, which was picked up by McNeil, his third career fumble recovery. Back on offense, the Vols quickly moved down the field with Hurd adding 18 more rushing yards to his total and a pass to Smith for eight. To cap the drive, Worley completed his fourth pass to North for a 14-yard touchdown.
After another successful attempt on defense, Worley threw his first interception in 70 attempts. ASU quickly punted the ball back to the Vols after Owen Williams earned his first career sack for a loss of nine yards.
With strong defensive efforts, ASU was unable to score during the third quarter. A slow start in the fourth quarter, Arkansas State drove the ball down the field for 83 yards for their third touchdown and first extra point made to cut the lead to 31-19.
Arkansas State, in hopes of a quick turnover, kicked an onside kick that was recovered by Alex Ellis.
The Tennessee defense came up with a fourth down stop late in the game, leading to another field goal by Medley, from 38 yards out, to close the game's scoring.
The Vols will travel to Norman, Okla. to take on the No. 4/3 Sooners on Sat., Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. ET.