Bowling Lane: 'We've busted our tail' to become bowl eligible

Tennessee defensive tackle Wes Brown (94) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown on a interception against Vanderbilt in the final minute of the game on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee defensive tackle Wes Brown (94) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown on a interception against Vanderbilt in the final minute of the game on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Game recap: Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt

You keep playing until the clock hits zero. That philosophy paid off for Tennessee on Saturday night.

A bowl-bid-clinching 31-16 win over Vanderbilt would have had a much bigger squirm factor for an announced Neyland Stadium crowd of 100,124, had the Vols not been so efficient at using every tick of the clock.

Jonathan Crompton fired a touchdown pass to Luke Stocker with five seconds left in the first half.

Defensive tackle Wes Brown rumbled 25 yards with an interception return for his first career score with three seconds to play in the game.

Other than that, there wasn't much separating the Vols (6-5, 3-4 SEC) and the Commodores (2-10, 0-8).

But it was enough separation to gain that coveted sixth win and become bowl-eligible, a welcome development for a team that sat home last year after a 5-7 season.

"Icing on the cake,'' said UT linebacker Rico McCoy, one of the seniors who made his final ceremonial run through the "T.''

"It's a great feeling that I have two more games left instead of one.''

The Vols finish the regular season at Kentucky (7-4, 3-4) on Saturday night.

"We've busted our tail,'' said Brown. "We deserved to win and to get to a bowl game.

"We're going to try to get another win to get to a better bowl game.''

Brown's unexpected journey to the end zone wasn't the only memorable senior moment.

Montario Hardesty rushed 32 times for a career-high 171 yards and crossed the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.

His 5-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive made it 7-0.

Brown and fellow defensive tackle Dan Williams had sacks at opportune times.

McCoy, the only starting linebacker to survive the season, was everywhere plugging holes.

Jonathan Crompton clumped his two touchdown passes in a span of just over three minutes late in the first half as the Vols broke away from a 10-10 deadlock.

He hit Denarius Moore with an 11-yard score with 3:16 left in the half.

The defense stopped Vanderbilt on a fourth-down gamble at the Tennessee 38 with only 35 seconds left in the half.

The Vols had saved all three of their timeouts and used them with three consecutive Crompton completions - and a roughing-the-passer penalty on Vandy - to arrive at the Commdores' 16 with 10 seconds to go.

Crompton fired a bullet to Stocker in the end zone and Tennessee took a 24-10 lead into the break.

"Jonathan has played really well in the two-minute (offense) all year,'' head coach Lane Kiffin said.

"In hindsight," said Vandy coach Bobby Johnson, "we probably would have been better to punt it down there and go into the half down 17-10.

"They did a great job on that drive.''

But not great a job in the second half.

UT's offense never mounted another threat, leaving it to Brown to provide the coups de grace.

Vandy finished the season on an eight-game losing streak. The 16 points were a high for SEC play.

Mackenzi Adams flipped a 2-yard scoring pass to Ryan van Renburg in the second quarter, only the fifth TD scored by Vandy's offense in conference play.

Ryan Fowler contributed three field goals.

The second came after a Crompton interception in the third quarter.

The third followed a stubborn stand by Tennessee's battered defense.

The Commodores, trailing 24-13, drove for a first down at the UT 8 late in the fourth quarter.

Dennis Rogan intercepted an Adams pass in the end zone but his theft was nullified by a pass-interference flag.

That rewarded Vandy with a first down at the 2. On third-and-goal at the 5, Brown sacked Adams and got an intentional-grounding penalty in the bargain.

Fowler's field goal made it 24-16, a one-score game if the 'Dores could get a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Toward that end, they tried an onside kick, but UT's Bryce Brown recovered with 2:51 to play.

The Vols rode Hardesty to grind down the clock. Vandy got the ball back at its 25 with only 26 seconds to play.

And that's where Brown rose up and found his chronically aching knees churning toward the end zone with a football in his clutches.

"A dream come true,'' he said.

The Vols lost two more defensive starters along the way. Cornerback Art Evans was injured in the first half, linebacker Greg King in the second.

King was playing in place of LaMarcus Thompson, sidelined by a concussion in the Ole Miss game last week.

But they found a healthy kicker to replace Daniel Lincoln.

Devin Mathis, a walk-on making his collegiate debut, hit a 27-yard field goal in the first half, his only try.

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Comments » 140

volonthehill writes:

They were scrappy tonight! I'm so proud of Wes Brown, I just can't describe it! He doesn't have any knees and will spend his late adult life paying for it. And he sacrificed it all for Tennessee.

BluezVol writes:

Considering his play at the beginning of the season, who would have thought Crompton would have been 1 pass shy of tying the UT record for passes with out an interception? He made 142 passes without a pick and the record is 143.

bigorange0711 writes:

Congrats big Wes Brown............You deserve it on your last night........Rumblin,Bumblin, Stumblin into the Checkerboard.....Give Him Six!!!!!!!!

kabulvol writes:

What's the likely bowl game with a 7-5 record? God forbid a 6-6 record?

the10sevol writes:

Wes Brown is my hero.

GBO

CoverOrange writes:

Kentucky just beat Georgia in Athens. Ain't going to be easy next week. Wildcat from the Wildcats. Defense has to play alot better. Missed alot of tackles tonight.

sidwalkvol writes:

Ky just beat Jawja. That means next week is the contest for second in the east. If LSU gets beat at Arkansas, who knows. Safe money is still on the Peach.

sidwalkvol writes:

hey, hey! Chik-fil-a!

Got a certain ring after last years cracked bell.

volpreacher writes:

in response to kabulvol:

What's the likely bowl game with a 7-5 record? God forbid a 6-6 record?

Well our defense is going to have to improve or we will be 6-6. Kentucky just beat Georgia at Georgia and they run an offense similar to Ole Miss. We need some more healthy bodies.

sidwalkvol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Kentucky just beat Georgia in Athens. Ain't going to be easy next week. Wildcat from the Wildcats. Defense has to play alot better. Missed alot of tackles tonight.

we are tired and thin.

do we have any linebackers left?

Might need to find some from the JV, as they did the kicker.

Who was fine, by the way.

We beat Bama if he is kicking.

HartfordCTvol writes:

I'm going to say what Lane can't. Those officials blew it big on a couple potential game changing calls in the 4th. This has got to stop. No coach can bring it up either. What can the fans do? Letter writing campaign to Slive? Ideas anyone?

sidwalkvol writes:

in response to HartfordCTvol:

I'm going to say what Lane can't. Those officials blew it big on a couple potential game changing calls in the 4th. This has got to stop. No coach can bring it up either. What can the fans do? Letter writing campaign to Slive? Ideas anyone?

I wrote Lowe, for all the good that will do.

It was horrible, especially on that last drive. Illegal contact with the long snapper? Replay showed no such. Interference on the interception? I think not.

DennisVols writes:

Watching Brown drag the Vandy player all the way into the endzone was classic. Seeing Kiffin go nuts when it happened was priceless.
Tough game next week against a good UK team.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to sidwalkvol:

we are tired and thin.

do we have any linebackers left?

Might need to find some from the JV, as they did the kicker.

Who was fine, by the way.

We beat Bama if he is kicking.

Agreed, although I was expecting Lane to give a chance at a long field goal late in the fourth instead of going for on fourth down.

Where, KNS, is the story on this new kicker kid that apparently just joined the team a few days ago?

FWBVol writes:

It wasn't the prettiest win in the series, but all things considered, I have no complaints with the effort and the outcome.

It was special to see Wes Brown lumber in for the score on his final play at Neyland. How sweet in deed.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm quickly developing a strong dislike for the ESPNU crew that broadcast this game and the Memphis game.

They put up a huge graphic listing all the injuries Vandy has suffered this year, but they only mentioned our injuries a few times in passing.

The lead guy pointedly said that at 5-5 (comingt into the game) UT was a mediocre team, but then they talked about the exceptional year Vanderbilt had last season going 7-6.

My favorite comment though came at the end of the game when we had things wrapped up and they said, "Tennessee will be going to a bowl for the first time since 2007." I know none of us have been too happy with the last few years, but wow, this is the first we've been to a bowl since missing one a year ago. In the last 30 years there have been three seasons when we didn't go to bowl games, so give me a break.

volpreacher writes:

in response to BIGGEST_UT_FAN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe Jackson will get cleared Monday too. I sure wouldn't want to play these Vols in a bowl either. They will have a month to get healthier.

rocky_topper writes:

I'll miss this group of seniors. They played with heart and were good group of young men. Kudos to Jon Crompton and Wes Brown for going out with a bang!

Volsnfl writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

rockytopatl writes:

Wes Brown's TD was wonderful and it was a fun win.

But next week will be a huge challenge. We might need to be recruiting linebackers from intramural teams. We have nothing left and the ones we do have were sliced, diced and minced by Vandy. I hate to think what Kentucky's offense will do against a defense with no linebackers.

On a positive note, if I were a four or five star high school linebacker, I'd be saying, "Gee, I think I'll go there. I could play next week."

Vols4Ever writes:

I've been fortunate to be around many decades of Volunteer football. I don't think there ever has been or will be a more heartwarming play than Wes Brown, on busted knees, intercepting a pass and by intestinal fortitude, dragging a Vandy player beyond the goal line to score on his final play for the VOLS. I think George Cafego pushed him. That truly epitomizes what college football and being a Volunteer is all about.

dans49er writes:

in response to HartfordCTvol:

I'm going to say what Lane can't. Those officials blew it big on a couple potential game changing calls in the 4th. This has got to stop. No coach can bring it up either. What can the fans do? Letter writing campaign to Slive? Ideas anyone?

I totally agree with you, HartfordCTvol. I think Mike Slive needs to send his officiating crews back to qualifying school. And it is very apparent that their vision is null and void.I would like to know how to complain to Slive.

nashvol34 writes:

Hey UF fan FU!!!! Now go play on your message boards about how te-blow and cry-er are the gay-est,I mean, greatest ever.

normdia writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

I've been fortunate to be around many decades of Volunteer football. I don't think there ever has been or will be a more heartwarming play than Wes Brown, on busted knees, intercepting a pass and by intestinal fortitude, dragging a Vandy player beyond the goal line to score on his final play for the VOLS. I think George Cafego pushed him. That truly epitomizes what college football and being a Volunteer is all about.

AMEN!!! That one definitely ranks at or near the top of my all time favorite plays, just because of what he has had to go through...God Bless you Wes Brown, you are truly a great Volunteer!

TrueVol70 writes:

in response to normdia:

AMEN!!! That one definitely ranks at or near the top of my all time favorite plays, just because of what he has had to go through...God Bless you Wes Brown, you are truly a great Volunteer!

Same sentiments here, gentlemen. 45 years of watching Volunteers football and I can't think of a more inspiring play. Wes epitomized what it means to be a Tennessee Volunteer. And, yes, George Cafego must have been helping him as I didn't see any other Orange jerseys nearby. I am so happy for Wes.

nashvol34 writes:

I've figured out why the uf fan comes to our message boards. It's because, if you go to the UF message boards, you have to submit and then have it APPROVED, before you can post. Are they worried about other teams fans coming to their party? Sorry bunch of gay-tors.

UkJarhead writes:

Thank you again for Randall Cobb... Can you believe that UK will finish second in the East? Shew.... Thanks for Sanders as well. Running him off did you a lot of good.

Go CATS
UK- 31
UT- 17

DLuckySeven writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

I've been fortunate to be around many decades of Volunteer football. I don't think there ever has been or will be a more heartwarming play than Wes Brown, on busted knees, intercepting a pass and by intestinal fortitude, dragging a Vandy player beyond the goal line to score on his final play for the VOLS. I think George Cafego pushed him. That truly epitomizes what college football and being a Volunteer is all about.

Why is it his final play for the vols? Why would he not play next week or in the bowl game?

TrueVol70 writes:

in response to DLuckySeven:

Why is it his final play for the vols? Why would he not play next week or in the bowl game?

Final play at home.

volsbandit writes:

what's the story on the new kicker? did he get pulled from the classroom?

feathersax writes:

Ahhh, another year in Nashville after whupping the commode-doors. This SEC zebra crew tonight was butt-awful. Kommisar Saliva is baiting CLK & must be fired!

feathersax writes:

in response to UkJarhead:

Thank you again for Randall Cobb... Can you believe that UK will finish second in the East? Shew.... Thanks for Sanders as well. Running him off did you a lot of good.

Go CATS
UK- 31
UT- 17

Haven't you been posting this sort of bilge for some 25 years? Your dribble is showing.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to DLuckySeven:

Why is it his final play for the vols? Why would he not play next week or in the bowl game?

His final play in the house God and Bob built.

TommyJack writes:

in response to UkJarhead:

Thank you again for Randall Cobb... Can you believe that UK will finish second in the East? Shew.... Thanks for Sanders as well. Running him off did you a lot of good.

Go CATS
UK- 31
UT- 17

You're most welcome. Can you say 25 straight years? Hmmmm?

UkJarhead writes:

in response to feathersax:

Haven't you been posting this sort of bilge for some 25 years? Your dribble is showing.

YES, I post it every year.... But once I'm finally right, I can say I told you so...

TO ALL VOL PLAYERS:

We will not have cheeseburgers in the locker room. We know you don't like them. We will have nachos with orange cheese. Please leave pellet guns at home.

Thanks

all_vols writes:

in response to Moral_Victories_U:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

way to be a peckerhead your whole miserable life

p66ayers#1376155 writes:

We came along ways this year, my fella Vols. Maybe beat UK and roll on into a decent bowl. Congrats to all of our Senior players. Thanks for the memories. I'll be looking for you on Sundays.

volsbandit writes:

in response to all_vols:

way to be a peckerhead your whole miserable life

guys, don't let these baffoons get to ya. they love the Vols or they wouldn't be here.

transplantiam writes:

Congrats Vols! This team showed a lot of heart tonight. It was nice to see CLK finally show some emotion. That's the first time I've seen him pop a grin all year. Now, if we can piece together enough defense for Kentucky next week we can come out 7-5 for the regular season. With a month to heal I have a good feeling for the bowl game.
GO VOLS!!

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to UkJarhead:

Thank you again for Randall Cobb... Can you believe that UK will finish second in the East? Shew.... Thanks for Sanders as well. Running him off did you a lot of good.

Go CATS
UK- 31
UT- 17

Sad thing for KY fans is that when UT wins its just another win. If KY gets lucky, people will right books about it. I'm 31 an actually can't remember when KY last beat us, I was 6. Go shovel some horse $hi+ and get off your internet machine.

cphil writes:

I'm wondering if the officiating crew tonight was dishing out payback to Kiffin for his criticism in games this year. There were four penalties called against UT that were so obviously wrong Ray Charles could have seen them better! Add to that the non-call on the pass to Stoddard where the Vandy defender was holding his right arm.

Maybe next week the SEC will make up a crew from students at Tennessee School for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Blind. They'd do a better job than this crew did.

UkJarhead writes:

in response to VolsFanInNC:

Sad thing for KY fans is that when UT wins its just another win. If KY gets lucky, people will right books about it. I'm 31 an actually can't remember when KY last beat us, I was 6. Go shovel some horse $hi+ and get off your internet machine.

Easy Vol in NC. No need to resort to name calling. Your right, it is a big win, and that's a credit to the VOLS. But why get ugly? Can you not resort to humor based on truth? You have to admit, that comment bout the nachos was funny. I don't care who you are. I've never shoveled stuff and I know it's called a computer. Shew...

nashvol34 writes:

Come on Vol fan in NC,don't give "em any ammunition. It's write not right. I understand you're 31, but still learning to right, should have happened a long time ago. Just giving you a hard time, don't want the inbreds in KY to have any ammo.

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to UkJarhead:

Easy Vol in NC. No need to resort to name calling. Your right, it is a big win, and that's a credit to the VOLS. But why get ugly? Can you not resort to humor based on truth? You have to admit, that comment bout the nachos was funny. I don't care who you are. I've never shoveled stuff and I know it's called a computer. Shew...

Just gettin' a rise out of you. I work with some Kentucky fans and they talk more trash than any group I've ever seen.

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to VolsFanInNC:

Just gettin' a rise out of you. I work with some Kentucky fans and they talk more trash than any group I've ever seen.

and I lived in Gator country for 10 yrs.

normdia writes:

in response to transplantiam:

Congrats Vols! This team showed a lot of heart tonight. It was nice to see CLK finally show some emotion. That's the first time I've seen him pop a grin all year. Now, if we can piece together enough defense for Kentucky next week we can come out 7-5 for the regular season. With a month to heal I have a good feeling for the bowl game.
GO VOLS!!

I totally agree...it was good to see Kiffin finally show some emotion...did you see him go down and shove Crompton...that was priceless.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

Did Strange watch the game...or listen to it? The next to last sentence was statistically correct. But wasn't Crompton's pass a deflection, off a Tennessee receiver's chest?

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to steamboatticket#484773:

Did Strange watch the game...or listen to it? The next to last sentence was statistically correct. But wasn't Crompton's pass a deflection, off a Tennessee receiver's chest?

I think it came out when he got hit and then popped in the air...not sure who's fault that should be..

bigorange61 writes:

Best hit of the night was Kiffin on Crompton after Wes Brown's interception. Hillarious!

normdia writes:

in response to VolsFanInNC:

I think it came out when he got hit and then popped in the air...not sure who's fault that should be..

I think it was the receiver's fault, he had the ball in his hands. IMHO.

cphil writes:

in response to BIGGEST_UT_FAN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The fact that the ESPN announcers even said they didn't see anything that should have resulted in a penalty on 3 of the 4 calls says a ton! Also, they commented on Luke Stocker being held on the non-call with one of the officials in camera view looking right at the play.

It's common for fans to complain all the time about the officials screwing us, or trying to anyway, but tonight it was just too obvious. It was like they were baiting Kiffin to see if he'd comment so he could get suspended.

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