4:00 PM ET, September 23, 2006
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- LaMarcus Coker has been waiting for his chance at Tennessee.
On Saturday, he finally got it -- but not before waiting just a little longer.
The start of the game between the 15th-ranked Volunteers and Marshall was delayed for an hour because of lightning and heavy rain, but it didn't seem to bother Coker or his Tennessee teammates.
Coker, a redshirt freshman who didn't have any rushing yards the last two weeks, ran 89 yards for a touchdown and Montario Hardesty added a 20-yard scoring run to help Tennessee shake off last week's loss to Florida with a 33-7 victory.
Tennessee (3-1), which netted minus 11 yards rushing against the Gators, finished with 176 yards on the ground against the Thundering Herd (1-3).
Coker, who scored his first career touchdown a week ago on a pass play, had 146 yards rushing on eight carries.
"I was just happy to be out there. I just really wanted to help the team out. I waited for my opportunity, and I was glad to take advantage of it," Coker said.
Showers -- at times heavy -- were mixed with sunshine and even a rainbow during the game. Several inches of rain were recorded in the area, and a flash flood watch was posted.
For the first time in 41 years, the Tennessee band did not form the giant 'T' on the field for the team to run through before the game because of the delay. Halftime was shortened to 15 minutes.
"A really special thank you to the fans who stuck in there with the delay and the rain. They were tremendous during the game," coach Phillip Fulmer said.
The rain cleared by the fourth quarter, and that's when Coker put the game out of reach. On the first play from scrimmage in the period, Coker got loose down the sideline and outraced the Herd defenders to record the third-longest run in school history. It was the longest since a 99-yarder by Kelsey Finch in 1977.
"It was huge in the ballgame. It wasn't necessarily a question, but there were still a lot of people wiggling in their seats, including the head coach," Fulmer said. "Fast guy. Once he broke contain, you almost knew that he was going to be able to outrun the safety."
With Tennessee leading 23-7, a pass from Marshall's Bernard Morris was picked off by Jonathan Hefney, Tennessee's second interception of the second half. James Wilhoit tacked on a 49-yard field goal to increase the lead to 26-7 with 5:24 remaining.
"It's a good win for us," Fulmer said. "We talked about it and worked on it all week about being able to finish the fourth quarter like we did. That was big for us."
The win was the 75th for Fulmer in Neyland Stadium.
Marshall lost to West Virginia and Kansas State early this season before beginning its Conference USA slate with Central Florida.
"We took a step in the right direction, and if we take another one, another one and another one, we'll be OK," second-year Marshall coach Mark Synder said.
"We played three very good football teams, and the next ones we play aren't going to be as talented."
The Vols extended their lead to 16-7 before halftime. Jayson Swain caught a pass that was deflected by teammate Bret Smith for a 20-yard gain, and Hardesty ran for a 20-yard touchdown on the next play.
Starting tailback Arian Foster did not play because of a sprained ankle he hurt three weeks ago against Air Force. Fourth-stringer David Yancey had a 5-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds to go when the Vols took out the starters.
The game started out ugly for Marshall when Morris was sacked in the end zone for a safety on the Herd's first possession of the game. Marshall was backed up at its own 3 when the first snap of the game was fumbled and Morris recovered it.
The Vols were ahead 9-0 in the first quarter when Erik Ainge completed a pass to Swain for a 47-yard touchdown play.
Ainge finished 18-of-27 for 258 yards.
Marshall's top rusher, Ahmad Bradshaw, had 72 yards on 24 carries, and Morris ran 14 times for 32 yards. Morris completed eight of 14 passes for 110 yards.
Wilhoit missed a 42-yard field goal on Vols' first possession, breaking a streak of 11 made kicks.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Matt McGlothlin and Xavier Mitchell sacked Bernard Mathis in the first quarter, setting the tone for the entire game.
Gameball goes to... Erik Ainge. The junior QB distributed the ball nicely and finished with 270 yards and a touchdown on 18-for-27 passing.
Stat of the game... 13, 47: Marshall attempted just 13 passes; five fewer attempts than the Vols completed. The Herd rushed the ball 47 times -- for just 121 yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||6-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|TD||5:17||JAYSON SWAIN 47 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||5:28||BERNARD MORRIS 1 YD RUN (ANTHONY BINSWANGER KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 92 yards.
|TD||2:52||MONTARIO HARDESTY 20 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||12:36||LAMARCUS COKER 89 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 89 yards.
|FG||5:24||JAMES WILHOIT II 49 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 20 yards.
|TD||0:23||DAVID YANCEY 5 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 61 yards.