published Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Bray throws 4 touchdowns as Tennessee beats Buffalo 41-10

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers knew he'd get a little more attention from opponents without Justin Hunter lined up with him.

The extra focus on Rogers by Buffalo didn't seem to matter, though. Rogers caught two of Tyler Bray's four touchdown passes and finished with a career-high 180 yards on seven catches as the Vols beat the Bulls 41-10 on Saturday.

"The coaches were telling me all week they have a lot of plays for me," Rogers said. "'You've got to step up. We're going to throw it to you. What are you going to do?' With Justin going down, I felt like come back strong for the team, and I felt like I did that."

Derek Dooley was looking for improvement on both sides of the ball after a loss at Florida and a bye week. The Vols spent the extra time adjusting the offense to make up for the absence of Hunter, who tore the ACL in his left knee against the Gators and will miss the rest of the season.

Rogers surpassed his previous career high of 100 yards receiving with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter after a 58-yard pass from Bray that would eventually set up his second score.

Bray was 21 for 30 piled up 342 yards. His four touchdowns marked the 10th consecutive game he's thrown for multiple scores, ranking second in the NCAA behind Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore's 16-game streak. He now has 14 touchdowns and 1,328 yards through four games.

"Tyler is a great quarterback. He has a great supporting cast," Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said.

DeAnthony Arnett caught Bray's other two touchdown throws. He stretched across the corner of the end zone on a 13-yard scoring strike that put Tennessee up 31-7 just before halftime and trapped the ball at the edge of the end zone, a play that was upheld on review, for his second score which gave the Vols a 38-7 lead with 3:49 in the third quarter.

Tennessee scored easily after Buffalo (1-4) went three-and-out on the opening drive. Bray had a pair of 14-yard passes and handed off to Rajion Neal on a reverse, and Neal ran 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Vols a 7-0 lead 3 minutes into the game.

The drive was set up by Devrin Young's 43-yard punt return, Tennessee's longest in four seasons. Young was seeing his first playing time after recovering from a fractured collarbone, and the freshman finished with 100 all-purpose yards but also lost a fumble on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

The Vols finally saw some improvement from their ground game too. After finishing with minus-9 yards total against Florida, Tennessee accumulated ... yards rushing, led by Tauren Poole's 101 yards on 17 carries.

But Tennessee also showed enough mistakes to cause Dooley some concern.

"We lost our focus," he said. "We made a ton of mistakes on offense: drops, snaps, missed assignments and penalties, and just looked sloppy. On defense it's the same old story — we play great defense for 51 plays but give up two plays for 108 yards."

The defense lost track of Buffalo quarterback Chazz Anderson on second-and-6 at the Bulls 32, and Anderson easily shot into open field to run 68 yards in a straight line for a touchdown with 3:21 in the first quarter to cut Tennessee's lead to 14-7.

Cameron Clear touched the ball but couldn't fall on it on a squibbed kickoff on the next play. Brandon Murie recovered the fumble for Buffalo at the Tennessee 21, but the Bulls couldn't capitalize and Peter Fardon was short on a 44-yard field goal attempt.

Tennessee got the ball to start the second half, but Neal dropped a lateral pass and recovered 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Da'Rick Rogers dropped a wide-open pass on the next play, and the Vols were forced to punt for the first time.

The game marked the first meeting between the two teams and Buffalo's second time facing a Southeastern Conference foe. The Bulls, who have beaten a BCS team only once before, previously logged a 38-7 loss at Auburn in 2006.

Though Buffalo took advantage of some of Tennessee's mistakes, the Bulls couldn't do much against Tennessee's speed. They gained just 264 yards compared to the Vols' 531, held the ball 10 fewer minutes, converted just three of 13 third-down attempts and zero of three fourth-down attempts.

Anderson finished 8 of 19 for 99 yards and had 79 yards rushing.

"We have to get better as a team, especially when you play a team like UT We've got to keep improving," Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack said.

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