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It Looks Like Fun for Manning

From Associated Press

Peyton Manning said he came back to college to have fun. He’s off to a good start, if five touchdown passes are fun.

Manning threw for 310 yards and a school record-tying five touchdown Saturday to lead No. 5 Tennessee to a 52-17 victory over Texas Tech to start a senior season many people never expected him to have.

The Volunteers (1-0) scored five times in a span of just over 12 minutes bridging the halftime break--with the help of two fumbled kickoffs by Texas Tech--to put away the Red Raiders (0-1).

Manning’s five touchdown passes tied the Tennessee single-game record last accomplished by Heath Shuler in 1993. Manning completed 26 of 38 passes, with one interception, not playing after there were 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

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After a long offseason dominated by his decision to stay at Tennessee instead of going to the NFL, Manning said he was elated to get the season started.

“I was the happiest guy this game finally got here so I could stop talking about why I stayed, and instead talk about why I didn’t complete that pass or why we threw that interception,” he said. “I’d rather talk about those things. I had a lot of fun out there tonight.”

The senior threw for touchdowns of 23 and 11 yards to Marcus Nash, nine yards to Jeremaine Copland, 29 yards to Andy McCullough and five yards to Peerless Price.

“We had a tiger by the tail,” Texas Tech Coach Spike Dykes said. “It’s really disappointing to lose in that fashion. We did a good job for 28 minutes and 32 seconds. Unfortunately it’s a 60-minute game, so there’s not much consolation in that.”

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Jaret Greaser kicked a 38-yard field goal for the Red Raiders with 1:37 left in the half to cut Tennessee’s lead to 10-3, but then the wheels came off for Tech.

Manning drove the Vols 80 yards to score on the 23-yard touchdown pass to Nash with 21 seconds left in the half and a 17-3 lead. Then Jeff Hall’s short, high kickoff was fumbled by Tim Winn, a tight end, and recovered at the Texas Tech 28 by Raynoch Thompson 18 seconds before halftime.

Under pressure on first down, Manning drilled a strike to the sliding Nash at the one, and Mark Levine scored on the next play to give the Vols two scores in 13 seconds and a 24-3 halftime lead.

After the break, Tennessee scored methodically on its first three possessions.

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Manning completed eight of 11 passes in a 65-yard drive to make it 31-3 with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

Tech once again fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Tennessee recovered at the Raiders 29. Manning hit McCullough over the middle on the next play and it was 38-3.

The Tennessee defense, which allowed Tech just 293 total yards, much coming after the game got out of hand, forced a three-and-out. Manning drove the team 54 yards in seven plays, completing four of five passes, to make it 45-3 with 4:36 left in the third quarter and end his night’s work.

Backup Tee Martin threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Graf Corby with 2:21 left to play.

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The game drew a crowd of 106,285.


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