Music City Bowl: Vols fall to Purdue in overtime
Tennessee closed out its 2021 season as it fell to Purdue in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl Thursday.
The Boilermakers prevailed, 48-45 in overtime, when Mitchell Fineran kicked a 38-yard field goal before a sellout crowd at Nissan Stadium.
The Volunteers (7-6, 4-4 SEC) opened a 21-7 lead in the first quarter as Hendon Hooker threw two touchdown passes to Cedric Tillman and Jabari Small had a 2-yard touchdown run.
Hooker’s first scoring strike covered 41 yards and gave Tennessee a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Purdue (9-4) would answer when its quarterback, Aidan O’Connell, lofted a 75-yard touchdown pass to Broc Thompson to tie the game, 7-7.
Tennessee regained the lead when Hooker connected with Tillman on a 61-yard scoring pass. Small’s touchdown plunge made it 21-7 before the Boilermakers scored 16 unanswered points.
Fineran had three field goals in the period. Purdue converted a fumble by Hooker when O’Connell threw a short scoring pass to tight end Payne Durham to give the Boilermakers the 23-21 advantage they enjoyed at halftime.
After receiving the ball to start the second half, Hooker culminated the opening drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Velus Jones Jr. to enable Tennessee to regain the advantage and open a 28-23 lead.
It didn’t take long for Purdue to regain the upper hand as the Boilermakers took a 30-28 lead on a scoring pass from O’Connell to TJ Sheffield.
UT, however, had a 31-30 advantage heading into the fourth quarter as Chase McGrath kicked a field goal to close out the scoring in the third quarter.
The final 15 minutes of regulation was packed with plenty of offensive fireworks as the two teams combined to score 29 points.
Hooker had two scoring strikes, including a 2-yarder to Jalin Hyatt to tie the game, 45-45, with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter.
The Vols had a chance to win the game in regulation but McGrath missed a potential game-winning 56-yard field goal as time expired.
Tennessee took the ball first in overtime but the Vols were stopped on fourth down from the Purdue 1-yard line.