KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Bryce Thompson tied a Tennessee single-game record by intercepting three passes as Tennessee capitalized on UAB mistakes to trounce the Blazers 30-7 on Saturday night.
Tennessee (4-5) has won three of its last four games to bounce back from a 1-4 start. The Volunteers snapped UAB’s three-game win streak and became the first team to exceed the 20-point mark against the Blazers (6-2) all season.
Thompson became the ninth different Tennessee player to intercept three passes in a game. He was the first Volunteer to accomplish that feat since Deon Grant did it in a 24-0 victory over Auburn in 1999.
Those were the first three interceptions of the season for Thompson, who was suspended for Tennessee’s first three games after an Aug. 24 arrest on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge that was later dismissed.
UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III committed four turnovers on his team’s side of the field in the Blazers’ first seven series. Tennessee scored 20 points off those four takeaways to grab a 23-0 halftime advantage.
Johnston went 11 of 22 for 136 yards with three interceptions and a fumble before an injury knocked him out of the game early in the fourth quarter.
Thompson intercepted three Johnston passes to set up two Brent Cimaglia field goals and a 2-yard touchdown run from Jauan Jennings. Tennessee also got an 11-yard touchdown run from Ty Chandler after Darel Middleton forced a Johnston fumble that Aubrey Solomon recovered.
The three Thompson interceptions gave Tennessee possession t the UAB 19, 31 and 43. Solomon’s fumble recovery allowed Tennessee to start its first touchdown drive at the UAB 30.
Tennessee played a second straight game without quarterback Brian Maurer, who sustained concussions in back-to-back games against Mississippi State and Alabama earlier this month. J.T. Shrout and Jarrett Guarantano split time playing quarterback.
Guarantano went 13 of 21 for 147 yards with an interception and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Eric Gray. Shrout was 3 of 6 for 34 yards.
Cimaglia made field goals from 36, 48 and 53 yards out. The 53-yarder was a career best for Cimaglia and the longest field goal by any Tennessee kicker since Jeff Hall also connected from 53 yards away in a 31-0 victory over Oklahoma State in 1995.
UAB’s only points came on backup quarterback Dylan Hopkins’ 15-yard touchdown pass to Lucious Stanley with 2:35 left. That late score enabled UAB to avoid getting shut out for the first time since a 39-0 loss to Florida in its 2011 season opener.
UAB didn’t play any games in 2015 or 2016 as it briefly shut down its football program in a cost-cutting measure.
UAB: The Blazers made too many mistakes to have any chance of beating a Southeastern Conference team on the road. UAB remains without running back Spencer Brown, who suffered a high ankle sprain early in an Oct. 5 victory over Rice and hasn’t played since.
Tennessee: Defense is sparking Tennessee’s resurgence. After outscoring South Carolina 24-0 in the second half of a 41-21 victory last week, the Vols held UAB scoreless for the first 57-plus minutes Saturday.
UAB is at Southern Mississippi.
Tennessee is at Kentucky.