Fant’s big game powers No. 3 Tennessee past UT Martin 65-24

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — This day in Princeton Fant’s career at Tennessee was a long time coming.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound redshirt senior came to Rocky Top as a running back with a strong arm. He grew into a tight end.

Fant ran for two touchdowns and lofted a 66-yard scoring pass to Jalin Hyatt on Saturday to lead the No. 3 Volunteers to a 65-24 win over FCS No. 14 UT Martin.

Tennessee (7-0) used the win over the Skyhawks to prepare for upcoming Southeastern Conference battles with Kentucky and Georgia.

“I thought our guys prepared the right way this week,” said Tennessee coach Josh Heupel. “You’ve gotta be a consistent competitor.”

UT Martin coach Jason Sampson said Tennessee’s speed “is hard to match here. They do a good job with their scheme.”

Besides running for scores of 1 and 11 yards, Fant took a lateral from Joe Milton and hit Jalin Hyatt for a 66-yard TD to give the Vols their 52-7 halftime lead. Fant also dropped a wide-open pass that would have been a touchdown.

“That’s a skill set (Fant has) uniquely had,” Heupel said. “It was a special throw.”

Fant said he wasn’t nervous.

“I joke around all the time in practice and throw it far,” Fant said. “Me and coach have been talking about that play for a long time.”

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, a Heisman Trophy candidate, completed 18 of 24 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Hooker took the rest of the day off late in the first half. Hyatt caught seven passes for 174 yards and two scores.

“We come every day with a chip on our shoulder,” Hooker said. “We want to go out and be assertive.”

Dresser Winn threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns for UT Martin (4-3).

ODDS & ENDS

Tennessee walk-on CB William Wright got his first career interception in the first quarter. … Hooker’s eight-yard scoring pass to Ramel Keyton gave Hooker a school-record 19 straight games with a TD pass, one better than Heath Shuler (1992-94). … The 52 first-half points were the most by the Vols in the first half as an SEC member. … K Chase McGrath, whose 40-yard field goal as time expired beat Alabama last week, misfired from 46 yards. … After having both goalposts torn down after the Alabama win, Tennessee raised over $150,000 to buy new ones.

SIDELINED VOLS

Seven key Tennessee players were not available for the game. Among them, WR Cedric Tillman missed his fourth game since having surgery for a high ankle sprain. … S Jaylen McCollough, who was cleared of school sanctions stemming from his aggravated assault arrest two weeks ago, did not participate. … Both starting CBs Kamal Hadden and Christian Charles were out, along with LT Gerald Mincey and LBs Juwan Mitchell and Kwauze Garland. … Late in the game, Vols third string QB Tayven Jackson went down with a shoulder injury.

SALUTE TO PAT

The 50-year anniversary of Title IX was celebrated at this game. Tennessee women’s basketball coaching icon Pat Summitt was the focus of the salute. Besides coaching the Lady Vols from 1974-2012 (1,098 wins, 8 NCAA championships), she graduated from UT Martin in 1974. Both schools have their arena floors named for her.

THE TAKEAWAY

UT Martin: Ranked No. 14 among FCS teams and 3-0 while trying to defend their Ohio Valley Conference championship, the Skyhawks shouldn’t have much negative carryover from the loss. The opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country with more than 100,000 fans in the stands — along with a nice check for playing the game — are just some of the positives that could help in the future.

Tennessee: With Kentucky at home and Georgia on the road awaiting the Vols the next two weeks, they needed a breather after beating Alabama. The game also provided an opportunity to work on specific areas. The secondary needs to improve in order to handle the upcoming challenges.

UP NEXT

UT Martin: The Skyhawks will play their second of three straight non-conference opponents Saturday when they travel to Houston Christian.

Tennessee: The Vols will return to the SEC Saturday with another rivalry matchup at home against Kentucky.

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