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Tennessee 26, Middle Tenn. 3

Sept. 7, 2002 at 10:32 PM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Fourth-ranked Tennessee got through a non-conference tuneup in workmanlike fashion Saturday night, cruising to a 26-3 victory over Middle Tennessee in the first meeting between the schools.

Casey Clausen completed 24 of 29 passes for 263 yards with a touchdown and an interception while Cedric Houston rushed for 74 yards and a score on 13 carries.

Tennessee (2-0), which faces Florida in two weeks, opened a 17-0 lead at the intermission, then relied on its defense in the second half.

The Volunteers allowed only a 45-yard field goal to Brian Kelly 41 seconds into the final quarter.

The Blue Raiders (0-2) stayed close, but could not mount much of an attack against the Volunteers' defense, which accounted for the final nine points of the game.

Defensive back Jabari Greer blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety that made it 19-3 with 9:19 remaining.

On Middle Tennessee's next possession, quarterback Andrico Hines fumbled and linebacker Kevin Simon recovered in the end zone for a touchdown with 5:27 left.

Hines completed 13 of 23 passes for just 109 yards and also was the leading rusher for the Blue Raiders with 63 yards on 19 carries.

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