KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It took 41 games, but an Alabama opponent finally had a runner gain 100 yards on the Crimson Tide defense.
Tauren Poole snapped the nation’s longest streak of sub-triple figure running totals with 6:27 left in the third quarter, when a 3-yard run put him at 102 for the night. He finished with 117.
Poole became only the ninth to break 100 yards against the Tide since 2005.
His 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter certainly helped the cause, as did the final possession of the first half. He ran for 36 yards on three carries to help set up a field goal and cut Alabama’s lead to 13-10.
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It was Poole’s fourth 100-plus yard game. Florida and UAB held him to 23 yards this season.
The 41-game streak dated back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards.
Earlier in the season, Trent Richardson snapped Penn State’s string of 17 straight games holding individual backs in double figures.
Helmet to helmet
It took just two plays Saturday night for a cringe-worthy helmet-to-helmet hit to silence the Neyland Stadium crowd.
Denarius Moore took an end around to the left side of the Alabama defense, where freshman cornerback DeMarcus Milliner was waiting.
Moore slipped just before Milliner arrived, leading with his helmet to create the violent collision that left the Tennessee receiver on the turf for several minutes before returning to the sideline.
Moore did not return to the game.
Two Vol QBs
Derek Dooley promised it, and Saturday night he followed through.
The Tennessee coach pulled quarterback Matt Simms after three possessions and sent true freshman Tyler Bray into the game to start the second quarter.
It didn’t go so well as the Vols were flagged for illegal formation, delay of game and holding during the first series.
Bray returned for the next possession and converted a third down with a 15-yard completion but then threw three straight incompletions to force a fourth straight punt, and Simms returned for the next drive.
Vol Navy docked
The Tennessee River was docile Saturday afternoon.
The fleet of boats that typically docks outside Neyland Stadium known as the “Vol Navy” was absent due to work on the nearby Watts Bar Dam that closed the locks.
As a result, most of the fleet relocated downstream in Chattanooga.
McCullough starts again
With D.J. Fluker still sidelined by a groin injury suffered two weeks ago at South Carolina, Alfred McCullough earned his second straight start at right offensive tackle.
Fluker, a redshirt freshman, made significant improvements in practice last week but still was considered “very questionable” by Saban to play against Tennessee.
McCullough was named co-offensive player of the week in his first career start a week ago against Mississippi.
Before the game, Kerry Murphy was announced as a starter in place for defensive end Damion Square.
Slow starting on road
The past three SEC road games started disastrously for the Tide defense. Against Tennessee, it almost avoided the same.
After holding the Vols to a three-and-out in its initial possession, Tennessee went 87 yards in four plays on its second touch to take a 7-0 lead. Poole’s 59-yard touchdown run provided most of the pop and all but 20 of Tennessee’s first quarter yards.
Auburn (last season), Arkansas and South Carolina scored with relative ease in opening possessions in each of the Crimson Tide’s past three SEC road games.
Tennessee’s slow start to the season left plenty of available seats in some of its early games, but Saturday night was a sellout.
In the Volunteers’ four previous home games, crowds of fewer than 100,000 were recorded twice. Both under-capacity games were were the Vols’ only two wins of the season, coming against Tennessee-Martin and UAB in September.
Alabama was allotted 9,500 tickets in the 102,455-seat stadium.
Alabama will get a rest after playing on each of the first seven Saturdays of the season.
Just like last season, the Tide’s bye week follows the Tennessee game and precedes a huge SEC West game with LSU.