Ainge throws four TDs to lead Tennessee past MemphisSep 30, 2006 - 7:25 PM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Erik Ainge and Tennessee rolled to another victory over an intrastate rival.
Ainge threw a career high-tying four touchdowns - two to Jayson Swain - and the 15th-ranked Volunteers dominated defensively in a 41-7 rout of Memphis in a non-conference matchup.
In one of the best performances of his career, Ainge completed 23-of-27 passes for 324 yards. The junior threw three touchdowns in the second half to help the Volunteers (4-1) pull away and improve to 19-2 against in-state opponents under coach Phillip Fulmer.
Since a one-point loss to No. 5 Florida two weeks ago, Tennessee has won its last two games by a combined 74-14. But there are no more cupcakes for the Vols as they head into the meat of their schedule with games against No. 10 Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and ninth-ranked LSU over the next five weeks.
"I'm really proud of our football team," Fulmer said. "I think we've really worked to get better during the course of the year. We still have a way to go in some areas, but we'll find out who we have healthy (Sunday) and obviously start getting ready for the Georgia Bulldogs."
Tennessee held a 13-0 lead at the break and rolled thereafter to continue its domination of the series, improving to 20-1, including 9-1 in Memphis.
Ainge connected with Swain for a 51-yard TD less than three minutes into the third quarter to open a 20-0 cushion. Five minutes later, Robert Meachem hauled in an 84-yard TD pass from Ainge to extend the lead to 27-0.
"I did a poor job of preparing our football team for this game today," said Memphis coach Tommy West, a Tennessee alumnus. "I thought Tennessee played a great game and they have a very good team. Tennessee really handed it to us and they were the more physical team and the better team."
Ainge threw his final TD pass, a seven-yarder to Bret Smith, with 12:45 to play to make it 34-0.
While Ainge was having his way with the Tigers, the defense was sensational. Memphis was outgained, 566-121, and managed only five first downs.
"I had all day to throw, didn't get sacked again," Ainge said. "Anytime I have that much time to throw, with the way the receivers are playing, that makes it really tough on the defense."
The Tigers (1-3) avoided a shutout on a 21-yard TD pass from Martin Hankins to Duke Calhoun with 3:45 remaining. Hankins was 11-of-17 for 79 yards with an interception and Calhoun had three receptions for 29 yards.
Tennessee dominated the first half, outgaining Memphis, 258-44, but settling for a pair of field goals after long drives. James Wilhoit capped a 66-yard drive in the first quarter with a 28-yard field goal and his 49-yarder with 22 seconds left in the first half finished a 67-yard march.
Ainge threw a five-yard TD pass to Swain in the second quarter to make it 10-0 and cap a 17-play, 97-yard drive.
"We had three significantly long drives two for scores and we left one at the foot line," Fulmer said. "You have to get touchdowns instead of field goals and we talked about doing what good teams do. We're trying to be a good team."
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