Even as they trailed late in the first half, you felt Tennessee Football had control of the game against the Missouri Tigers. Their offense had only seen the field three times, and they were down 10-7. Given the fact that they were going to get the ball to start the second half, nobody had anything to worry about.
Joe Milton III and the offense went to work. With under four minutes to play, they drove down the field and got into Missouri territory. On 2nd and 7 at the Missouri 33, they had 20 seconds and two timeouts. Even a field goal to tie it would be fine, as they could score to open the second half.
Jaylen Wright caught a pass from Milton for a first down on that play. All was well on Rocky Top. Then it wasn’t. Wright lost the ball as he fell down, and Missouri recovered it. A 35-yard run by Cody Schrader then set Mizzou up for a field goal right before the end of the half, which nobody thought possible.
All of a sudden, what could have been a 10-10 tie or a 14-10 Tennessee Football lead turned into a 13-7 Missouri lead at halftime. Sure, the Vols were going to get the ball to start the second half, but that was a brutal momentum killer, and it spiraled into the third quarter.
Desperate, Josh Heupel called an option play to open the second half, which resulted in a fumble and a six-yard loss. That killed the Vols’ opening drive, and Mizzou got the ball back and went down to score a touchdown to take a two-score lead. Such a play call is not made if the sequence to end the first half doesn’t happen.
You can trace it all to the Wright fumble. If Wright holds on, Tennessee Football has all the momentum. However, because of that fumble, the avalanche began, and the Vols have shown themselves to not be great at handling that. As a result, what could have been a game turned into a blowout loss.