Vols overcome slow start; handle Hoosiers with late game heroics
By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
For the first time in three years, Tennessee found themselves in the post season, with a chance to close the season with eight wins.
After falling to Georgia State 38-30 in their season opener, Tennessee seemed unlikely to even make the post season.
Jeremy Pruitt and the Volunteers took to the field against B1G opponent, Indiana for the first time since the late 80’s.
The Vols’ first possession resulted in a quick three-and-out after a costly holding penalty.
After finding themselves on defense for the first time in the game, Nigel Warrior came down with an interception after a handful of dink-and-dump plays from the Hoosiers.
On the first play of their second offensive possession, Jarrett Guarantano connected with Ramel Keyton on a deep pass, leaving Tennessee on the door step of their first post season touchdown in three years.
The Vols failed to punch the ball into the end zone after going for four consecutive passes with just over nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. Indiana’s ensuing possession mimicked their first — dink-and-dump style play, with four to six yard attempts mixed in.
The Tennessee defense continued to play well as Kivon Bennet and Henry To’o To’o combined for a sack on a third down and forced the Hoosiers to punt the ball back to the boys in orange.
On their ensuing possession, Tennessee found a spark in the run game after a big run from freshman phenom Eric Gray.
Two plays later, Guarantano connected with Marquez Callaway for a gain of 19-yards.
Gray then again squeezed through the pile for a seven yard gain, leaving the Vols 12-yards away from pay dirt at the end of the first quarter.
After a 6:04 drive, the Vols got on the board for the first time of the game and took a 3-0 lead on a Cimaglia field goal.
After taking back over on defense, Tennessee gave Indiana some unearned yardage after a couple of penalties. Shamburger, who had halted an Indiana drive with an interception, took down Hoosier quarterback Peyton Ramsey with a nicely timed sack, allowing the Vols to take back over on offense. Tennessee began to pick up intensity in the running game as the second quarter progressed.
Ty Chandler continually dashed through the Hoosier defense, allowing the Vols to work deeper down the field and inevitably into the red zone, again, working toward the end zone.
Chandler continued to produce on offense, catching a big pass for a first down, bringing up a first-and-ten from the 13-yard line with six and a half minutes remaining until the half. With the Vols in the red zone for the third time of the game and with only three points to show for it, they were salivating for the end zone.
A handful of unsuccessful plays led to Pruitt calling a timeout, their first of the half, with just five and a half minutes remaining in the half and the Hoosiers getting possession to begin the second half. Again, Cimaglia played the part of hero as he kicked through his second field goal of the night to extend the Tennessee lead to 6-0. A 14-play 50 yard drive again, resulted in only three points for Tennessee. Offensively, they continued to struggle. However, the Tennessee defense began to tighten, again, taking down the Hoosier quarterback with ferocity and forcing another three-and-out. After being unable to “cross the plane” all night, Tennessee needed another score to take a two-possession lead into the locker room at the half.
To’o To’o continued to come up big for the Volunteers as he halted back-to-back rush attempts from the Hoosiers in Tennessee territory.
After holding Indiana to a fourth-and-short, Ramsey snuck across the marker for a first down, working further into Tennessee territory with under a minute remaining until halftime. The Hoosiers were able to finally hang some points on the board after a field goal brought the game back to within three points at 6-3. Indiana received the ball to start the third quarter, but the Vols received something much more valuable — Jauan Jennings.
Indiana’s energy was evident in their initial second half drive as Ramsey continued to create opportunities for the Hoosiers with his legs.
Ramsey connected with Peyton Hendershot for an 18-yard gain after a holding penalty. Bringing up a much more manageable second down with one yard to gain.
After gaining the first down, the Hoosiers continued to try to establish a rushing attack.
They inevitably worked their way deep into territory with a second and goal from the 10-yard line.
Two plays later, Ramsey scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper giving the Hoosiers their first lead of the game with 9:29 remaining in the third quarter. After a successful PAT, Indiana took a 10-6 lead.
Tennessee wasted no time in targeting Jauan Jennings on their initial second half possession. However, the Hoosiers were ready, and came down with an interception that they returned for a touchdown. After a missed PAT, Indiana took a 16-6 lead.
The Vols’ energy seemed sapped, and they were desperate for an answer.
Freshman quarterback Brian Maurer was put into the game on the ensuing drive to send a message to Guarantano.
Again calling on Cimaglia, the Vols chipped away at the Hoosier’s lead after a successful 43-yard field goal and drew the score to within a touchdown at 16-9.
Indiana’s offensive consistency increased as the third quarter continued. Inevitably finding their way into Tennessee territory after back-to-back 20+ yard passes from Ramsey.
The Vols continued to give Indiana unearned yardage on costly penalties. After a big sack from Roman Harrison, the Hoosiers were faced with a third-and-13.
One incompletion later, Indiana kicked a 49-yard field goal to extend their lead to two possessions, 19-9, with just over a minute remaining until the final frame of the game.
Tennessee began the fourth quarter trailing by 10 points. With their backs against the wall, it was now or never.
The Vols continued to struggle as Indiana extended its lead to 22-9 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
With 6:26 remaining in the game, Guarantano connected with Jennings for the first time all night to take Tennessee into Indiana territory.
The Vols finally began to find an offensive rhythm late in the game, trailing by 13.
With 4:21 remaining in the game, the Vols finally hit pay dirt on a one-yard rushing touchdown from Crouch. After a successful PAT, the Vols trailed by only six points.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tennessee elected to to for an onside kick, which was recovered by the Vols.
Tennessee regained life.
On the ensuing play, Guarantano connected with Palmer on a deep pass and Palmer was face-masked in the process, allowing he Vols to take over from the 18-yard line.
On the ensuing play, freshman phenom Eric Gray scampered into the end zone for the Vols’ second touchdown of the night. After a successful PAT, Tennessee regained the lead with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
The Tennessee defense stepped up with a big sack in second down, forcing a long third down.
Indiana elected to attempt a field goal, which missed wide to the right, allowing Tennessee to maintain a one-point lead with just over two minutes remaining.
Jauan Jennings lined up in the “Wildcat” and rushed the ball for a first down. Allowing Tennessee to secure a 23-22 victory.
With the win, Tennessee improved to 8-5 on the season and closed the year on a six game win streak. The second longest streak in the SEC.