KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyler Bray threw three touchdown passes, two of them to Justin Hunter, and Tauren Poole ran for two more as Tennessee got its first Southeastern Conference win of the season with a 52-14 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday.
It’s also Derek Dooley’s first SEC win as Tennessee’s coach and first streak of two wins. The Vols have never gone a season without an SEC win and have won at least three conference games every season since 1977.
It also snapped Tennessee’s six-game losing streak against SEC West opponents.
On Tennessee’s first play from scrimmage, Bray attempted a pass to Gerald Jones which was tipped by Ole Miss’ Jonathan Cornell right into the hands of Justin Hunter. Hunter had 80 yards of green space and took it all the way to the end zone.
The Vols (4-6, 1-5) were in control the whole game, thanks to Bray’s passing. The Vols had only seven yards on the ground in the first half but countered it with 265 yards by air.
By the end of the game, Tennessee had outgained Ole Miss 441 yards to 295 on offense.
Bray finished 18 for 34 with 323 yards. In two games as the starter, Bray has completed 37 of 67 for 648 yards and eight touchdowns without turning the ball over.
Hunter had 114 yards on three catches and Poole had 107 yards on 12 carries.
Ole Miss (4-6, 1-5) couldn’t get its offense going with Jeremiah Masoli being pressured by the Vols’ defensive line all day. The Rebels entered the game having given up only seven sacks in eight games, but the Vols took Masoli down twice and sacked backup Nathan Stanley once.
Tennessee took a 21-0 lead with 2:33 left in the first quarter when Eric Gordon picked off a pass by Masoli at the Rebels 46 and ran it back for a touchdown. Prentiss Waggner returned another Masoli interception for a score, his third touchdown on an interception return this season, setting a Tennessee record.
Masoli finished 7-for-18 with 80 yards, three interceptions and no touchdowns, and the quarterback known for his scrambling abilities had even less success on the ground with 22 yards rushing.
Ole Miss entered the game with a ground game that ranked second in the SEC and 13th in the nation, and the Rebels tailbacks did their best to make up for Masoli’s struggles. Brandon Bolden ran for 113 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 17 yards and 2 yards for the Rebels’ only scores.
Beth Rucker/The Associated Press