Adams: Ending befits season

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The game lasted four overtimes and almost five hours. But when it finally ended, Tennessee players didn’t want to leave.

You couldn’t blame them.

This was their finest moment. And this is how they will be remembered.

Forget what happened against Florida or Alabama. Or what almost happened against Vanderbilt eight days ago or against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.

The Vols blew a 17-point lead against Kentucky but didn’t blow the game. A potentially monumental collapse turned into a classic victory, 52-50 in four overtimes.

The game reflected a regular season fraught with sudden twists and turns. The Vols were up and down, then up and down again. But all that mattered was where they stood at the end: Way up.

The Vols had won 22 consecutive games against Kentucky. They never had won like this.

So when they made the last crucial play in a game of crucial plays, they weren’t ready to run to the locker room. They were ready to celebrate.

Not only had they beaten Kentucky for the 23rd consecutive time, they had won the SEC East.

How fitting that the last play came in the corner of Commonwealth Stadium manned by UT fans. Seconds after defensive end Antonio Reynolds dragged down Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson on an ill-fated two-point conversion attempt, UT players ran toward the nearby band and fans. As the band played “Rocky Top,” UT players and coaches jumped for joy.

The Kentucky fans booed when the band struck up “Rocky Top” at halftime. They didn’t have anything left for the post-game encore.

Nobody outside of Philadelphia boos a four-overtime game. There’s too much to applaud.

UT fans should save the loudest ovation for defensive tackle Dan Williams.

A week earlier, UT players stood by helplessly as Vanderbilt kicker Bryan Hahnfeldt’s last-second, 49-yard field goal drifted toward the goal posts behind them. When the ball grazed an upright, the Vols were saved by inches.

They had to save themselves against the Wildcats.

Lones Seiber, a former Central High School kicker, had the Vols in his sights. This wasn’t a long shot. It was a chip shot — a 34-yard field goal, straight away.

Finally, after all the years and all the losses, the end of the streak was clearly in sight for Kentucky fans. Then, Williams blocked their view, rising slightly above the thicket at the line of scrimmage to block a kick, which barely got off the runway.

“They made a great surge in the middle and got up real high,” Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. “The kick was a little low.”

It’s always a little something with Kentucky in this series. A kick gets blocked, or a play gets botched. The turnovers and turnarounds invariably go UT’s way.

Like South Carolina and Vanderbilt before it, Kentucky gave UT another chance. And the Vols seized it with a vengeance.

This was as much about second effort as second chances. No matter how many times a beleaguered UT defense was dissected by Kentucky’s passing game in the second half, it found a way to make a play at the end.

Woodson couldn’t decide whether to run or pass on the game’s last play. His indecision gave Reynolds time to make the tackle from behind.

The game was over, the celebration was on, and the streak was alive.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knews.com.

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Comments » 65

vtvol#210290 writes:

Congrats to Kentucky for coming back from 17 back late in the second half to give me, and I'm sure a plethora of Vol, Bulldog, and Wildcat fans, four overtimes of heart-stopping action. I felt that UK's offense would overmatch the UT defense and from halftime onward it seemed to be the case. Why Tennessee played 10-12 yards off of the UK receivers was unfathomable. The fact that the Vols sat in an eight man zone with a three man rush during Kentucky's 90 yard FG march to end regulation was equally frustrating. How about a corner blitz or some other zone-blitz, every now and then, Coach Chavis? Kudos to Erik Ainge and the kiddie corps of WRs who would answer score for score in every OT but the second when Ainge's pass was tipped for an impending coffin-nail of an INT. For the Vols' special teams and "Big Daddy" Dan Williams to come up with that FG block was HUGE! The facemask penalty which was called, and subsequently waived, against UK on its game-saving tackle on the FG block-return needs to addressed by the NCAA rules committee this coming spring. When a penalty is called against the defense on the final play of a half or game, the offense is entitled to one untimed down. Since the Wildcats kicking team turned into defenders on the return, shouldn't the facemask penalty have been marched off from the end of the return and allow Tennessee a shot at running one play from there? The ball would've been placed at the UK 35 and have given UT's Daniel Lincoln a shot at a game-winning 52 yarder. If this rule stays unchanged then future game-saving facemask penalties will continue to be rewarded. Props to Ainge and Quinton Hancock for overcoming the ticky-tack unsportsmanlike call against Arian Foster to end the third overtime and leave the Vols to start the 4th OT at UK's 40. If UK's period-ending penalty was not enforeced because it was the end of the period then why was Foster's heated flip of the football? This was the most exciting regular season Vol fb game I've ever seen, including the 5 OT game against Bama and the 6 OT game against Arkansas four and five years ago respectively, because of the ramifications for half of the SEC eastern division teams awaiting its resolution. Congrats to the Volunteer coaching staff for a fine game plan offensively and especially to Coach Fulmer for not becoming too conservative and "packing it in" late in the second half. Even though Josh Briscoe did not make the catch on the 4th and three from the Kentucky 37, it was the right move to go for it and definitely the correct play call. Briscoe just did not make the catch. I hope the Fulmer bashers leave Phil alone. He has shown us his abilty to win big games has not eluded him. Next week a tired and emotionally spent Tennessee team will tussle with a wounded and emotionally spent LSU team with larger stakes on the line. Whichever coach can rally the emotions of his respective troops to not come out "flat" will be the victor.

nickperkinsalc#627224 writes:

Is it safe to say this was one of the greatest college football games of all time? :)

inquiry writes:

John.. got a typo in the heading.. should read "Benefits" the season..

volinexile writes:

inquiry...use a dictionary. the writer got it right. i can't believe I'm even responding to a post like this, but I don't want little vol fans growing up not knowing the difference between befits and benefits.

vegasvol writes:

vt-do you really think anyone is going to read all that? keep it brief man.

gohawks1 writes:

Man, I'm plum tuckered out after that one.

This team has HEART, not to mention TALENT! Things look good for the next few years with these young guys as they mature and become experienced on the field. Great effort, guys!

CrankE writes:

inquiry, "befits" is correct. Read the middle paragraph. "How fitting..." Adams makes a point that the ending of this game is fitting for this season.

I make the point though that UT should have pounded these guys by a couple of TDs and ended it in regulation. Another 4th quarter fade by our offense nearly cost UT another game. The defense could hardly stop them, but then they spent most of the second half on the field too.

It's all good though, the Dogs sit, the goalposts at Commonwealth Stadium are safe, and UT is back in the dome! Woohooo!!!!

volgrog#210164 writes:

The game was too thrilling in many ways, but perfect for a Vols fan. The Vols toyed with GA fans who were rooting for UK as much as any UK fan. They got to delay the FL/FSU game showing for a half. They got to beat little brother for a 23rd straight time and, above all, they get to go to Atlanta.

vtvol#210290 writes:

Well Vegas, you and Walt did. BTW, thanks Walt, I guess my UT journalism classes came in handy.

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Why must we make things so hard on ourselves? What a win. Go vols!

jawjavol writes:

Hey VtVol,

Tell us what you really think.... but try and keep it to less than three overtime periods! That might befit a game of such magnitude while benefitting my ADD!

thevol writes:

I tried vt, but I've had too much orange Kool-aid. Maybe I'll give it a shot tomorrow, but for now all I can say is Go Big Orange!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

those idiot announcers....Phil goes for it fourh and 3, a good call, a good play, and Lucas drops it. Buerlein (sp) has the nefve to criticize.

Phil learned from the Bama game that punting for a net of 20 yards is foolish.

There were some haosed-up calls by the coaches, but mostly UT players stung themselves. Several missed INTS, tipped or dropped passes....lucky to survive this one.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

UK got very, very lucky, and the announcers would never say it. In the second half, the 40-yard play happend because Woodson JUST missed being sacked.

Another big play, INT Berry gave up as the receiver tied him up. Then, the INT UT dropped in the end zone at the end of the game. Add to that UK getting 1 second on the clock with Woodson's last throw of the regulation...

murrayvol writes:

Will there be anything else vt?
Regarding the facemask incident, it should be assessed in the next OT, just like the chickens--t unsportsmanlike penalty. And I could have sworn it was Lucas Taylor and not Briscoe who dropped the 4th down pass.

Whatever! What a game! Hope there's enough left in the tank for LSU. I think there may be.

oldbasshead writes:

I'm glad the Vols won, but this was a disappointing game to me and in many ways feels like a loss. The down linemen got no pressure on Woodson without the help of a blits. UT's DB's are young and it really shows. The receivers could not get seperation from KU's secondary and dropped several passes during second half. The O line could not consistently open anything up the middle. UT's coaching staff was unable to make adjustments in second half. Again I'm glad UT won, but I yearn for a team that can put teams away with consistent play. I felt like UT should have never been in the OT and in a position to loose the game. It is absolutely amazing to me that a team with a defense as porous as UT's could be champions of the East and in the SEC Championship game. Thank you Georgia. Thank you Auburn. Thank you LSU and Thank you Tennessee. GoVols, beat LSU.

SFOrange writes:

Just like our season week-in-week-out, the Vols teetered on disaster...only to barely break thru. So here they are 9-3, SEC East Champions (no, not Florida, not UGA, and not the crash-and-burn that is USC). Lets face it, this team (officially) has character.

buxavol writes:

Lucas Taylor had a couple of drops-the 4th down drop I thought was going to get us beat. Austin Rogers had one too, that would have gotten us a first down late. Vinson dropped an interception. Berry missed an interception.
All these combined, late in the game, and we still came through! We may not be the most talented, or best coached at times, but there is no team anywhere with more character, desire, & determination!! The groundwork is being laid for what appears to be a very bright future for these young men that are going to return, and for Vol fans everywhere!

vtvol#210290 writes:

murrayvol, you may be right about it being Taylor instead of Briscoe dropping that crucial 4th down pass. My bad for my inaccuracies.

1bigutfan writes:

Rogers, jumping when he catches the ball has gotten to stop. That drop was huge. In any case, what a game!

BigVolinCarolina writes:

A win's a "win" folks...both sides did things wrong and both sides did some things well...today, the breaks fell our way.

I'll take it. I'm proud of our players for fighting hard throughout the season, particularly after I felt like we gave up during the 'Bama game and hung our heads.

It's good to be playing for an SEC championship and a BCS bowl. Go Vols!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

btw, being a born and bred rebel and southernor, I have seceded from the NCAA. I live in yankeeland now, and I'm so damn sick of hearing about KU, Mizzou, OSU...well, at least KU and Mizzou have to play in a conf championship.

OSU just p*ssies in every yaar because of Jim Delaney and the big TIN.

arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
re-bel!!!!!!!

mtnvol writes:

If TN had just one receiver catch a pass in the fourth qtr, no overtimes needed. Thankfully everyone came through when our collective backs were on the proverbial wall.

Great fans in the NE corner of that JV stadium! How many does that cracker box seat, 50K?

CoverOrange writes:

And if Ricardo Kemp runs over Woodson on his interception instead of flopping like it's the end of the game, KY doesn't have a second to kick the tying field goal.

Lotsa ifs. But we won anyway.

Huntingdonvol writes:

Very nice coaching job and an all out effort by the players!!!As this team like the 02 team luck has been on there side!!!!Good luck vols beat some lsu but!!!game ball should go to Foster!!!

copan07#220906 writes:

Saban and Bama: 6-6
Spurrier and South Carolina: 6-6
FULMER and VOLS: 9-3 and playing for SEC Title

rparham#223742 writes:

And I had to listen to the last five minutes and the overtimes sitting in my truck listening to XM. The CBS affiliate here in Gainesville, FL, shifted to the UF/FSU game. I almost threw the XM out of the window about 10 times!

GO VOLS, almost have tickets for Atlanta

aj_vol#248433 writes:

Arian Foster needs to learn to stay in bounds when we are trying to run out the clock at the end of the game - he had a great game, but ran out of bounds twice with 8 minutes left in the 4th

FatherVol writes:

Statement: I have never cared HOW we got to Atlanta as long as we got there. It's likely that LSU will be very down after their loss and the possible loss of their coach to Michigan. It's a golden opportunity. As one LSU fan who called to congratulate me on our win today said, "Who cares about an SEC championship when you just drained the sink of your hopes for a National title."

Question: Why were the penalty yards for the Flagrant facemask tackle not assessed against KY in the next overtime like the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty yards were assessed against the Vols in the next overtime? It doesn't seem fair that one team was penalized for a previous violation in the next overtime and the other was not.

SCvol81 writes:

Concur on the NCAA review of rules. When you have a penalty on a play that could have significantly injured a player (facemask) that results in no yards in OT, and you have another penalty where no one was endangered that becomes a potential gamechanger in OT, there's something wrong here!

Great job Vols!!!

aj_vol#248433 writes:

Evidently the penalty on Foster was assessed in the next OT because it was a dead ball foul that occurred after the play was over.

The facemask on KY occurred during the play.

I agree that the rules need to be adjusted - that facemask was brutal, lucky that Berry wasn't hurt.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

Wow. This week and last week, I just don't have anything to say.

I said after FL that I saw us running the table with the exception of Alabama.

I can't believe how this season has gone but I am glad that it has. This type of fight will instill character in the young guys and if things go right, we should be tough next year.

If only we could get Spurrier, we could get this whole mess ironed out and get back on track.

On to ATL!!!!

LSU is still extremely tough. I don't buy any of this garbage that I am hearing about them being overrated. I still see a monster that could (should) be playing for the NC.

Seriously, look at the top 5 in the country. You want to bet against LSU against any of them?

But... we beat KY and ARK who both beat LSU so heck... let's just say we beat them just for fun.

OK, so maybe I had a little to say.

thethommyb writes:

I repeat...

For those of you who think we are outclassed in this SEC title game:

We just beat the two teams who have beaten LSU this year.

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

From espn article after game...

"No one gives us a shot, including our own people," said Foster, who rushed for 118 yards and caught nine passes for 98 yards.

"The backbone of this team has been our heart, and that's the kind of mind-set coach Fulmer sets in the locker room. He preaches that to us.

We'll get out of it what we can, and we'll take it however we can get it."

For Fulmer, that also means some added job security, which, in the dog-eat-dog world of the SEC, is always a nice thing.

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton indicated after the game Saturday that Fulmer can expect some combination of a raise and/or extension.

Hamilton said he "plans on taking care" of Fulmer and reiterated how proud he is to have the SEC's dean of coaches at Tennessee."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns...

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

nicksjuzunk, please have a clue, son.

There is no way on God's green earth that the people of Tennessee would ever stand for that gaping, windsucking lowlife Steve Spurrier becoming football coach at Tennessee.

It ain't gonna happen, in my lifetime or in yours. Even if we were looking, which we are not just yet.

Coach Fulmer and the staff have earned a new life with these wins since Alabama. We're still not playing well in so many areas but we're finding a way to win. They've earned a new lease, in my book.

These freshmen have me so excited, I almost don't care what happens rest of this season...I'm ready for 2008.

VirginiaVol writes:

I had to leave my warm television set and go to work with 4 minutes left in the game. I just got home. I drank some orange Kool-Aid after work. Who won? Is Fulmer still coach? Just wondering....

OldNumber7 writes:

VT, I read your 8:43 post and thought it summed it up well - great post. I have been very critical of the coaches and do think they made terrible judgement calls last night - but they also made great ones against Georgia and Arkansas. At the end of the day UT is the only East team standing. It's a day to congratulate them and put the cardiac-season of 07 into the books. Sometimes great teams see lightening-strike along the way (alluding to the blocked field goal) - maybe the Sec champ is clad in Big Orange!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Defense didn't quit despite looking Alabamish (leaving Burton open on out routes constantly) and persevered, somehow. We gave them every chance, then snatched it away. Great game Vols, players and coaches, no style points , but a win. Let's see, what do we have in common with LSU? Oh, we both gave up 50 in our last outing! Deee--feence! SEC Champ game will probably be 17-12 outing! Lord, don't create a new LSU hero, ala last visit vs Tigers in Dome. P.S. tommyb, who beat who as a reference means zilch. Ck Bama slamming us and losing to La-Monroe! Go Vols.

THE_VOL writes:

And just think - all of that end of game/overtime excitement would have never have happened if we had some coaches that knew what the hell they were doing! Yeah let's just stay in a soft zone/prevent and let one of the top 5 QBs in the land torch us for 80 yards in the last 2 minutes. Another shining example of coaching genius by Chavis and his boss. To each - THANK YOU for creating another memory for all the fans. Please let the next one be your retirement speeches.

rootin4volz writes:

GREAT WIN! What a game! That is what college football is all about! Way to go Vols! You showed great heart and determination when it mattered! On to an SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl!!

By the way, I've ordered 2 tickets to Atlanta and can't go...If you want to buy 'em, let's chat. You can email me at daboalley@gmail.com.

DSaVolismyidiot_half_brother writes:

No post from my half brother I see. Must not have crawled out from under his rock just yet. See y'all in Atlanta. 14 tickets on the 35!

tennesseevol#258284 writes:

oldbashead: You must lead a miserable life based on "I'm glad the Vols won, but this was a disappointing game to me and in many ways feels like a loss.". You have my sympathy.

mparker12: "UK got very, very lucky, and the announcers would never say it. In the second half, the 40-yard play happend because Woodson JUST missed being sacked.", if they had shown the replay, you would have seen our DE being tackled by their OT.

BigOrangeInCarolina writes:

Boy, is it great not to be an Alabubba fan, or worse yet, a booster that threw down a chunk of money to snag that liar Satan. 6-6, losing to Louisiana-Marilyn Monroe, and now to Auburn? He looks like he has aged 10-15 years already. What's he making, over $600k per game? All that money cannot hide how he lied, and if he doesn't win and win big, Alabubba might not be able to land any big name coach again. Who would want to coach at that hole??? To all you sorry redneck Dawg fans- PISS OFF!!!!! You are not going to Atlanta because of the THUMPING the Vols gave you a few weeks back. All this talk I hear about Georgia deserving a trip more than the Vols is pure, jealous phooey. Too little, too late, boys. Catch up on your schoolwork during the coming week-your tutors can't do ALL of it for you!!! Carolina fans, what has happened to you and your god Steve Superior is what happened to Granny Clampett (Lou-ser Holtz). It's called the CHICKEN CURSE, and it is alive and well. You deserve a bowl about as much as Alabubba does. To Arkansas, Coach Nutt deserves to stay. He is a class act and you would be best served to keep him around. To Kentucky, could somebody in the Psych dept. hypnotize Coach Brooks or something, so he'd change facial expressions every now and then? He looked like he'd soiled his Depends somewhere about midway through the 1st quarter and never bothered changing them. He's got a lot to be thankful for, although I'm sure he'd have trouble coming up with something if you asked him today. To Tim Teabag and Florida, HA-HA!!! To all the Vol fans out there-THE TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS ARE THE 2007 SEC EAST CHAMPIONS!!!!!!! Let's go to Atlanta and take out the Tigers!!!!

Colliervol writes:

So many things about that game and this season that I don't know where to start. For one man's opinion, the coaches have done what I hoped they could do after the 2005 season. (Make improvements.) 2006 was an improvement. And, no matter how it happened, winning the SEC East and getting a shot at the Sugar Bowl is another step in getting this program back to where it was. If you go by the definition of what an SEC team is looking for when they start the season, there is no other way to look at it.

Oh, I still have questions about some aspects of the program that aren't going away, primarily the inconsistency from game-to-game and half to half. But that's an argument for another day. Overall, I thought the game plan and coaching were excellent yesterday. I'm elated for the team, the coaches and the fans to see a team overcome as much as they have this year and accomplish what they have. Beating LSU would be gravy in my opinion. And I believe it can be done.

leedsvol2007 writes:

Lost in all our analysis of what we did or didn't do is some credit to Ky.

They are a great offensive football team. I believe Lyons, Tamme, and Woodson will all play on Sundays for a long time to come.

After UGA beat them the week before they said they felt UK was a tired football team. They obviously were pointing toward us.

What a game! Thank the lord we made one more play than they did.

GoVols!

Colliervol writes:

Agreed leedsvol. KY is a great offensive team and Rich Brooks deserves a lot of credit for what he's done with that program.

I'd also like to add a big amen for Dan Williams. Without his FG block, I'm pretty sure that field goal was headed down central.

lilesrt writes:

I keep hearing that we beat two teams that beat LSU this year. Arkansas and Kentucky. If I am not mistaking, they did the same. They beat two teams we didn't even come close to beating. Alabama and Florida. Make no mistake about it,they are looking over us in the championship. I live right outside of Baton Rouge and everyone is counting the vols out saying things such as, "Tennessee doesn't even belong on the same field as the Tigers." I love it!! Keep counting us out. Thats when we play the best!

Colliervol writes:

And one last thing to be thankful for. The extremists on both sides of the issue of Fulmer's "retirement" can put their argument to rest. That game yesterday guaranteed that Phil is going nowhere until he decides on his own. (Still don't know about the assistants, there could be a change or two there.)

I'll be the first to admit that I did not believe they could turn it around after the Bama debacle and I don't believe anybody that was being realistic about the situation could either. Just didn't see it. But, to the team's and the coaches' credit, they pulled it off and, if you are a fair person, you MUST give them credit for what they did. I am elated to admit I was wrong on that subject and that bit of crow is tasting pretty good this morning!!

One last request for one of the most ardent extremists. Hiresanders, I look forward to your pick of "LSU by double digits". That would guarantee a win for the Vols considering your track record. Also, on another prediction gone awry, who was dancing at the end of the day? Twenty-three and counting. End of discussion.

alfrizzle097 writes:

Fulmer gets a shot to reestablish his legacy now. Another SEC championship to accompany the national would easily establish Fulmer as one of the top two coaches in UT history.

Fulmer is to UT football what Bowden is to FSU. Fire him? Hopefully not. I feel ashamed that I was beginning to waiver on that point earlier in the season.

murrayvol writes:

Agreed Collier. I would've bet the house we couldn't win out and go to Atlanta but who knew that UGA would take Florida out to make it possible.

I'm having my crow medium with a side of home fries. And it's great to live in Kentucky working on 23 in a row. Swwweeeeet!

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