Nov. 3, 2012
By Brian Rice UTSports.com
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Playing on the first Saturday of November suits Tyler Bray.
Two seasons ago, Bray made his initial start as a Volunteer on the first November Saturday of 2010 and threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns in a 50-14 win at Memphis. On this Saturday, Bray threw for a new Tennessee-record 530 yards and equaled the career-high five TDs that he first achieved on that outing at the Liberty Bowl.
Bray bested the previous Tennessee record for yards passing, 523, set by Peyton Manning at Kentucky in a 59-31 over the Wildcats in 1997.
"I feel great about it," Bray told the Vol Network following the game. "Any time you can beat one of Peyton's records it's always good, but we got a win and that feels even better."
Among the highlights of his performance were the three scoring drives in the 4th quarter, each either tied the game or put Tennessee in front.
Down 40-34 with 0:28 left in the third quarter, Bray went 5-5 on the ensuing drive, 4-4 after the clock ticked over to the final quarter, capped by a 23-yard pass to Rajion Neal for a touchdown that put the Vols up 41-40, following a Michael Palardy point after. The teams traded two scoreless possessions each before Troy wrestled the lead back, 48-41. Following a defensive pass interference call on the Vols' first play, Bray unleashed a 61-yard bomb to Justin Hunter to tie the game back up at 48.
A Troy three-and-out put the ball back in Bray's hands with the game on the line. The junior then unleashed passes of 18 yards to Marlin Lane and 24 yards to Hunter that set up Lane's 9-yard run to put UT ahead for good with 1:18 to play.
"I was real proud of Tyler the last two drives, taking us down to score," Derek Dooley said. "We needed every bit of it today."
"We kept focusing on what we needed to do," Bray said of the late scores. "We knew the defense was going to come up with stops, and when they did we needed to go score."
Bray broke another Tennessee record, one that he set back in that first start in Memphis two years ago. He had 313 first-half passing yards, which bested his previous mark of 308 yards against the Tigers, a UT record for passing yards in a half.
His 530 passing yards ranks second all-time in Southeastern Conference history, bested only by Eric Zeier of Georgia, who threw for 544 yards against Southern Miss. in 1993.
Bray said he wasn't thinking about the records, just about getting a win, and credited his offensive line, which did not surrender a sack on the afternoon.
"I was clean," Bray said. "It's another game where they don't even have to wash my jersey."