Nov. 7, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis coach Tommy West cracked a joke in the preseason about Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin trying to sell a talking, lying dog.
The punchline didn't make much sense, but it was enough to upset the Volunteers. They responded with a 56-28 rout of the Tigers on Saturday night that was over after the first drive.
"I guess that dog bit back a little," Kiffin said.
That's an understatement.
He tied his career high of five touchdown passes on the next play with a 16-yard connection to Moore to make it 49-7 with 12:38 left in the third quarter.
Crompton set a career high of 331 yards and finished 21-for-27 and with no interceptions. He was replaced by backup Nick Stephens halfway through the third quarter.
"We expected to come out and play one of our better games, and we knew if we did we could kind of dominate," Crompton said.
Kiffin, who earned his first winning streak as Vols coach, said he was determined his players would not succumb to a homecoming letdown after a month of facing Southeastern Conference teams.
So with a 14-0 lead with 9:32 left in the first quarter, the Vols (5-4) attempted an onside kick after their second touchdown, but it was negated by an offsides penalty. Tennessee also attempted four unnecessary fourth-down conversions.
Tennessee has dominated the series. The Vols hold a 21-1 advantage against Memphis and have won all 12 meetings in Knoxville.
But the games between the state rivals often have been closer than the record indicates. Six of the 10 meetings between the two teams since 1991 have been decided by fewer than two touchdowns.
"I thought toward the end of the week it came to me that I had to make sure they felt my intensity and the team felt how much we were going after this thing," Kiffin said.
The Vols never punted with Crompton in the game, though they turned the ball over when they couldn't convert a fourth-and-2 at the Tigers' 29 and when Dennis Rogan muffed a punt return.
Memphis drove 93 yards in its 2-minute offense and scored on a 36-yard run by Marcus Hightower to cut Tennessee's lead to 35-7 with 58 seconds left in the half. The Vols responded with a 55-yard drive and Crompton's 1-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds on the clock.
The Tigers have been hampered by injuries this season, and it especially showed on defense. The Vols had their way passing nearly the entire game with wide-open routes.
Crompton, who until a few games ago was more likely to throw interceptions than touchdowns, had his selection of scoring targets in Moore, Gerald Jones, Luke Stocker, Quintin Hancock and Nu'Keese Richardson. Stephens also hit Moore for a TD.
Jones led the receiving corps with 97 yards on four catches.
"I've never been in a game quite like this that we could not cover them," West said. "We tried everything we could possibly do. We couldn't cover them."
Crompton was only 5 yards and a TD pass short of tying his career high at halftime. By the break, Tennessee had outgained Memphis 382-104 and had gained 11 more first downs.
Memphis entered the game with the 100th-ranked defense, giving up an average 416.5 yards. Tennessee finished with 566 yards.
The Vols ranked 13th in the nation in defense, but were playing second- and third-string players by the time Curtis Steele scored on a 1-yard run and again on a 3-yard run in the middle of the third quarter. The scores cut Tennessee's margin to 49-21.
"(West) said it was up to us to finish the game. You've got to dig deep and do some soul searching, and that's what we did," Steele said.
Steele finished with 144 yards on 21 carries in addition to the two touchdowns. Will Hudgens was 19 of 31 for 194 yards and an interception.
Tennessee's Eric Berry, the Southeastern Conference's career interception return leader, inched closer to the NCAA career record when he picked off Hudgens and returned the ball 7 yards. Berry has 494 career return yards, 5 yards shy of Florida State's Terrell Buckley.
"I had told the team last night he would break the record (against Memphis)," Kiffin said. "I just had a feeling he was going to do it."