BYU football will return to Provo with a 1-1 record after a 29-26 win over Tennessee in double overtime. The game marked the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.
BYU got off to a rough start with a false start on the first play of the game followed by a couple of incomplete passes. After a 15-yard pass from quarterback Zach Wilson, Lopini Katoa picked up a first down, but the next set of downs ended with a punt to the Tennessee 20-yard line.
The Vols took their time as they marched down the field, capping off a 15-play drive with a touchdown, leaving the score at 7-0 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
BYU pushed their way to the Tennessee 24-yard line, led by a series of passes from Wilson, the longest of which was good for 27 yards to Matt Bushman. Tennessee pushed back with help from a BYU game penalty delay and BYU hit a field goal from the 31-yard line, bringing the score to 7-3.
With 19 seconds left in the first quarter, Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed a 51-yard pass to Jauan Jennings, landing them in BYU’s red zone going into the second frame.
Tennessee inched closer to the BYU end zone to start the second quarter, but BYU’s defense came up big as it stopped the Volunteers on a crucial fourth-and-one on its own 19-yard line. Later in the quarter, Tennessee increased their lead to 10-3 on a 51-yard field goal courtesy of Brent Cimaglia. Cimaglia added one more field goal before the end of the first half, giving the Vols a 13-3 lead heading into the locker room.
Starting off the second half, Tennessee’s opening drive was cut short almost immediately by a BYU interception by Kavika Fonua, which was returned to the Tennessee 20-yard line. A six-yard rush from University of South Carolina grad transfer Ty’Son Williams was followed by a 16-yard rush into the end zone, cutting Tennessee’s lead to 13-10 with 12:54 left in the third quarter.
Near the beginning of the fourth quarter, BYU’s Devin Kaufusi was taken out of the game on a targeting call. Tennessee added another field goal, bringing the score to 16-10 with 11:41 remaining in the game.
A 10-play, 50-yard drive gave BYU momentum, but the Cougars had to settle for a field goal as freshman Jake Oldroyd continued to turn heads, converting on a 42-yard kick.
With 3:25 remaining in the game, BYU faced a crucial fourth-and-four but decided to punt the ball, leaving the game in the hands of the defense. Tennessee took 2:24 off the clock before punting the ball back to BYU, who had exactly one minute to march down the field, trailing 16-13.
With six seconds remaining in the game and virtually no hope left for BYU — ESPN predicted there was a 99.9% chance of Tennessee winning the game at this point — BYU quarterback Zach Wilson found Micah Simon who was wide-open for a 64-yard gain that brought BYU to the Tennessee 16-yard line. BYU found itself relying on Oldroyd, the freshman phenom, who remained perfect by hitting a field goal from 33-yards out with one second left on the clock, tying the game 16-16. Tennessee won the coin toss going into overtime and chose to start on defense.
With the first possession in overtime, BYU wasted no time as Wilson found Talon Shumway in the endzone on BYU’s third play. This put the pressure on Tennessee as they trailed for the first time in the game. They needed to answer with a touchdown of their own to force the game into a second overtime.
Tennessee started its drive with an incomplete pass and a rush that resulted in a lost yard, but on a crucial third-and-11, Guarantano found Josh Palmer for a gain of 13, extending the drive. Three plays later, Jauan Jennings caught a Guarantano pass in the end zone to send the game into a second overtime.
Tennessee’s offense had the ball first in the second overtime but settled for a field goal after failing to move the fourth-down marker, setting BYU up for a dramatic finish.
BYU started its drive with a 13-yard run after a reverse pass to Aleva Hifo. Williams took over for the BYU offense, gaining seven yards for the Cougars and bringing them within five yards of the end zone. On the next play, Wilson handed the ball off to Williams who hit a pile of Vols defenders just yards before the end zone, but a scrum ensued and the BYU offense pushed Williams into the end zone, giving BYU the 29-26 win.
This was the first-ever meeting between the two programs, with Tennessee now set to visit Provo during the 2023 season.