(WBIR) With 9:24 left in the fourth quarter, LaTroy Lewis and the rest of the Tennessee defensive line swallowed up Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, bringing him to the ground on third down. The Heisman hopeful hobbled off the field, not a stranger to the Vols' pressure, which overwhelmed his Aggies the entire game.
It was that kind of night for the Vols.
In front of a sold out crowd of 102,455 in Neyland Stadium, Tennessee dismantled Utah State, 38-7, on Sunday night in a game they never trailed.
The scoring started early for the Vols. On a six-play, 70 yard drive, Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley drove the young Vols down the field, capped by a 8-yard Pig Howard sidestep into the end zone.
Howard led the receiving corps in catches with six for 37 yards.
It only took fourteen seconds for the Vols to strike again. On a possession set up by a Utah State turnover, Worley connected with Brendan Downs for a 12-yard score, his only catch of the night, to push Tennessee's early lead to 14.
Worley threw a career high 27 completions for 273 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on the night.
The Vols took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at the half, which could have been inflated, reaching Aggies' territory on five consecutive possessions before the half resulting in only a field goal.
But Worley's night wasn't over.
He would connect on his first 13 passes to begin the second half. For the game, he threw to ten different receivers, with touchdown passes going to Downs, Von Pearson and Jalen Hurd.
Heavy reliance on a stout recruiting class was imminent before the season.
Head Coach Butch Jones played 21 true freshman, the most in a Vols' opening game. He also played 11 other players who played in their first Tennessee game. The Vols shined offensively, but the play of the defense, for Vols' fans, was a sight for sore eyes.
In 2013, Tennessee ranked 107th in total defense.
On Sunday, It was difficult to tell.
Senior A.J. Johnson led the defense with nine tackles and an interception. He also made in impact in special teams, forcing a Utah State fumble recovered by freshman and Webb product Todd Kelly Jr. Sophomore Cameron Sutton also chipped in with an interception of his own and sophomore Jaylen Reeves-Maybin led the team in tackles with ten.
The Vols defense forced three turnovers, Utah State didn't force any, something they had accomplished in their last 23 games.
The buzz surrounding the Vols' top recruiting class, as well as a Sunday start on Boomsday weekend made the game the first sellout for a Vols' home opener since 2007 --- a 39-19 win against Southern Mississippi.
The victory marked Tennessee's 20th consecutive home opener win.
Next week, the Vols have a 12 p.m. ET start on Saturday against Arkansas State.