Vols topple Virginia Tech in front of NCAA-record crowd

Steve Megargee
Associated Press
Virginia Tech running back Travon McMillian, left, outraces Tennessee defenders for a touchdown in the first half at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bristol, Tenn. — Joshua Dobbs threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores Saturday as No. 17 Tennessee erased an early 14-point deficit and beat Virginia Tech, 45-24, in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 156,990 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The crowd total shattered the previous NCAA record of 115,109 who attended a Michigan victory over Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium in 2013

“Just an unbelievable spectacle. … This is truly a special evening we’ll remember for a lifetime,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.

Virginia Tech (1-1) outscored Tennessee 14-0 and outgained the Vols, 204-28, in the first quarter. Tennessee (2-0) responded by scoring 31 straight points, including 24 in the second period.

Dobbs rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries. He was 10 of 19 for 91 yards through the air and threw touchdown passes to Jauan Jennings, Josh Malone and Alvin Kamara.

Tennessee’s Micah Abernathy set a school single-game record with three fumble recoveries. Virginia Tech ended up losing five fumbles, and three of those turnovers resulted in Tennessee touchdowns. The Hokies have lost nine fumbles through their first two games.

“We’ve obviously got to do a better job either teaching or understanding or emphasizing ball security,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “We’re inadequate, to say the least, right now.”

Jalen Hurd ran for 99 yards on 22 carries. Virginia Tech’s Travon McMillian rushed 14 times for 127 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown.

The turning point of the game came when Abernathy recovered a fumble on the Virginia Tech 5-yard line in the opening play of the second quarter. Dobbs found Jennings in the end zone on the next play.

Tennessee’s next three drives resulted in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Malone, an Aaron Medley 34-yard field goal and a Dobbs 5-yard touchdown run.

This marked the first football game to take place at the Bristol Motor Speedway since the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles played a 1961 exhibition game here that drew 10,000 fans to a facility that seated 20,000 at the time.