KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Brian Randolph made a game-clinching, fourth-and-goal interception in the end zone with 1:51 remaining as Tennessee squandered most of a 24-point lead before hanging on for a 31-24 victory over South Alabama.
South Alabama (2-2) had first-and-goal at the 7 in the closing minutes but was unable to get the tying touchdown. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 8, South Alabama quarterback Ross Metheny was hit by Corey Vereen while releasing the pass that Randolph intercepted.
Tennessee's Rajion Neal rushed for a career-high 169 yards on 25 carries. Neal's 11-yard touchdown run gave Tennessee (3-2) a 31-7 lead early in the third quarter.
Metheny was 21 of 42 for 234 yards with two interceptions. He also rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee overcame a three-interception performance from Justin Worley, who was 20 of 36 for 234 yards. Worley threw touchdown passes to freshmen A.J. Branisel and Josh Smith.