First-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt desperately needed a signature win and his Tennessee Vols came through on road Saturday, defeating No. 21 Auburn 30-24 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In handing Pruitt his first conference victory, the Vols (3-3, 1-2) snapped a 6-game losing streak to Auburn (4-3, 1-2) and a program-worst 11-game losing streak in the SEC. It was Tennessee’s first victory over the Tigers since 1999, its first SEC victory since beating Missouri in late 2016.
Overcoming a 10-point deficit late in the second quarter, the Vols turned the momentum in their favor in the third quarter. Vols K Brent Cimaglia started the surge with a 45-yard field goal to end the first half, cutting the Auburn lead to 17-13.
Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano put the Vols in front for good, 20-17 late in the third quarter, with a 25-yard touchdown pass to WR Jauan Jennings, and the Vols piled on less than a minute later when DLs Kyle Phillips and Alexis Johnson Jr. teamed up to sack struggling Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, who fumbled, and Vols LB Darrell Taylor returned it 8 yards for a touchdown and a 27-17 lead.
Cimaglia made it 20 unanswered points for Tennessee with a 20- yard field goal and the Vols led 30-17 with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter.
It was also a signature performance from Guarantano, who threw for a career-high 328 yards — his first 300-yard game — and added 2 TD passes. The Vols had 4 completions that covered at least 25 yards on a day Guarantano repeatedly looked deep.
Auburn led 10-3 at the quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by FB Chandler Cox and a 20-yard field goal from K Anders Carlson.
A 42-yard touchdown pass from Guarantano to RB Ty Chandler tied the score at 10 early in the second quarter, but Auburn regained the lead, 17-10, on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Stidham to WR Anthony Schwartz.
The two teams, which played yearly from 1956-91 before league expansion, aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2025 at Neyland Stadium.