The saying “records were made to be broken” has been a staple in sports for as long as sports have been around.
With the 156,990 that filed into Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, the Battle at Bristol broke the world record for most attended college football game in history.
But that was a record that everyone expected to be broken. It was announced by BMS general manager Jerry Caldwell at the Tennessee-Appalachian State game that the race track was expected to sell out.
But the other two broken records weren’t on the agenda.
In route to their 45-24 win over Virginia Tech, the No. 14/17 Vols had two players rewrite their names into the record books.
Josh Dobbs passed Jimmy Streater for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in UT history after a 40-yard scamper in the third quarter boosted him over Streater’s record of 1,374 yards. Meanwhile, Micah Abernathy broke the UT single-game record for fumbles recovered after scooping up three turnovers.
“It’s very special,” head coach Butch Jones said about the experience of playing in the Battle at Bristol. “It’ll never be replicated; it’ll never be duplicated … It’s something our student-athletes will remember for a lifetime.”
It wasn’t how the Vols started this game – it was how they finished. Primarily because the start was so rocky.
Tennessee trailed 14-0 after the first quarter of play. Dobbs only had two passing yards and the Vols as a team had just 28 yards of total offense.
But after regrouping prior to the second quarter, the Vols proceeded to go on a 45-10 run to end the game.
“We had beat ourselves,” Jones said about the first quarter. “I didn’t like the way it started, but I really liked the way it finished … We have to learn how to have intensity for 60 minutes.”
Five of UT’s seven touchdowns came from Dobbs. Despite tossing three touchdowns, Dobbs only finished with 91 yards on 10-of-19 passing.
Dobbs also shined with his legs, running the ball 14 times for 106 yards and two more scores in the game.
“We talked about all week just being patient,” Dobbs said after the game. “We’re going to go out and make plays … We just executed.”
All week, the Vols were warned of Virginia Tech’s high-tempo offense, and the Vols countered with a high-powered, quick attack of their own.
Virginia Tech ran 73 plays compared to the Vols 65, but only two of Tennessee’s 17 drives lasted longer than three minutes, 22 seconds. The first drive lasted exactly three minutes and 22 seconds and ended with a punt. The other drive, the last drive of the game, lasted three minutes and 28 seconds and was simply a result of the Vols running out the final minutes of the clock.
The rapid fire of the Tennessee (2-0) drive machine started in the beginning of the second quarter when the Vols recovered a fumble five yards out from the Hokies’ (1-1) end zone. The drive ended six seconds later on a five-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Jauan Jennings.
“When you can push the ball down the field, it gives you so many options to choose from,” Jones said. “Josh did a good job of putting it where he (Jennings) could get it.”
The Vols will face off against Ohio next Saturday at noon. In two weeks, the Vols host the Florida Gators in Neyland Stadium.