No Major Distractions as Tennessee Wins, 26-21
After the distraction of Coach Johnny Majors’ resignation, playing Memphis State was a welcome break for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Not that it was easy. The 23rd-ranked Volunteers got four field goals from John Becksvoort and two key passes from Heath Shuler to Ronald Davis to hold off the Tigers, 26-21, Saturday in a nonconference game at Memphis.
The victory, running Tennessee’s record to 14-0 against its cross-state rival, came fewer than 24 hours after Majors announced he is leaving at the end of the season.
“In a way it was much easier,” said Cory Fleming, a Tennessee receiver. “We finally got a chance to get on the field and just think about Memphis State, not worry about anything else, no fans, no media.”
Majors said he was not worried that his sudden and surprising decision would distract the team.
The Volunteers (6-3) were led by Charlie Garner with 109 rushing yards and a defense that stifled Memphis State (5-5), which was held to minus one yard rushing.
Steve Matthews, a former Tennessee player, and receiver Russell Copeland connected on three touchdown passes to account for all of Memphis State’s points.