Final minutes of Music City Bowl leave Vols scratching their heads

Friday, December 31, 2010 at 1:43am

The helmet struck the turf hard, bounced up into the air, rolled several feet, then stopped and just sat there — peacefully.

In stark contrast, everything around that piece of equipment was far from tranquil.

When Tennessee defensive end Gerald Williams tossed his helmet, he did so amidst one of the most bizarre finishes to a college football game — ever. It capped off a wild final 31 seconds of regulation of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Thursday night. And it was just the beginning of the frustration for a Volunteers squad that ultimately lost to North Carolina 30-27 in double overtime.

“Everyone wanted to throw their helmet at that point,” Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker said.

Other things were thrown, like bottles and food and fits after a game that had been declared over had, in fact, gained new life.

The chaos picked up on the last play of regulation — or so the sellout crowd of 69,143 at LP Field thought. Down 20-17, the Tar Heels used a seven-yard run by Shaun Draughn to advance to Tennessee’s 18-yard line. But Draughn didn’t pick up a first down and with no timeouts left and less than 10 seconds remaining, North Carolina (8-5) needed to rush to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock.

However, several members of the Tar Heels’ special teams unit scurried onto the field. With players running to and from the sidelines and the clock ticking, North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates took the snap and spiked the ball. It was obvious the Tar Heels had more than 11 players on the field and a flag was thrown.

The clock showed zero and the officials declared the game over and tried to run off the field. The Volunteers (6-7) erupted and poured out onto the field, certain of victory.
 Not so fast. Referee Dennis Lipski turned his microphone back on and said that the ball had been spiked with one second left. He said North Carolina would be penalized five yards for illegal substitution.

Thus, the Tar Heels were given another chance and Tar Heels placekicker Casey Barth sent the contest into overtime with a 39-yard field goal.

“I have been involved in coaching for 37 years and when you stand on the sidelines you get an opportunity to see a lot of bizarre things happen in a coaching career,” North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. “This is going to have to be one of those games that I think ESPN Classic will be showing a 100 years from now.”

It was a finish eerily similar to Tennessee’s road loss to LSU back in October. The Volunteers thought they had that game won, too. They stopped LSU on the last play of the game and celebrated the win. But officials reviewed the play and saw that Tennessee had 13 players on the field. LSU won the game on the next play.

“I thought I had seen it all in Baton Rouge,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “Just when you think you have seen it all, you haven’t. It was chaos again. I had a sick feeling when that thing hit zero because I have been there. I didn’t celebrate this time.”

The continuation of the Music City Bowl sent LP Field into a frenzy. A chorus of boos rained in from the heavily Tennessee crowd. Bottles flew in and out of the stands. One object that ended up by the North Carolina sideline was returned to seats behind the Tar Heels bench. Several North Carolina players had to be contained from yelling and motioning toward fans.

Williams’ helmet toss came immediately after Barth’s tying kick. He was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct and was assessed to North Carolina’s opening possession. The Tar Heels started at the 12 ½ yard line instead of the 25 and scored quickly thereafter. Tennessee responded with a touchdown to send it to a second overtime.

But Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was intercepted and three plays later Barth kicked a 23-yard game-winning field goal.

“Most teams don't ever have that happen to them and we have had it happen to us twice this year,” defensive end Chris Walker said. “It is really difficult, especially to feel the pain of defeat after we have worked so hard this whole season. To get this far and have it all taken away from us is really disappointing.”

If the penalty for illegal substitution had occurred in the NFL, 10 seconds would have been run off the clock. The rule is in place to avoid rewarding a penalized team by giving it extra time.

College football has no such rule.

“That’s why they have a 10-second runoff rule in the NFL so an offense can’t do that to give themselves a chance to win,” Dooley said. “We probably should get it.”

Dooley left the postgame press conference dejected. But as he walked back toward the Tennessee locker room he was joined by his wife, Allison, and their children. Dooley flashed a smile as he talked to Allison while his 6-year-old daughter Julianna laughed with Tennessee officials.

It was a memorable, peaceful moment — one that would seem fitting anywhere else.

But not here. Not at the site of one of the craziest endings in college football.

Briefly


• The game probably wouldn’t have come down to that last play if Tennessee hadn’t made a few miscues.

Two stick out: Daniel Lincoln’s missed extra point and Janzen Jackson’s personal foul.

After Tennessee took a 20-17 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Bray to Justin Hunter with 5:15 left in regulation, Lincoln lined up for the point-after. The kick was low and was tipped by Donte Paige-Moss. Ultimately the ball fell short of the goalpost.

Then, on the first play of North Carolina’s final drive in regulation, Jackson, a safety, was called for a personal foul after Yates hooked up with Todd Harrelson for a 28-yard gain. Replays showed that Jackson led with his helmet and struck Harrelson in the back between his shoulders. It added 15 yards to the drive and put the Tar Heels at Tennessee’s 37 with 25 seconds left.

“Breaks just don't go our way sometimes,” Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “There are some things we could have done better. They didn't beat us. We beat ourselves.”

• Draughn finished with 160 yards on 23 carries. The senior running back was starting in place of Anthony Elzy, who did not make the trip as a result of failing to meet academic requirements.

Draughn, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2009, made his presence known early as he broke off a 58-yard touchdown run on North Carolina’s opening drive in the first quarter.

“We missed him all year long but he sure came through tonight like a complete champion,” Davis said.

• It was North Carolina’s third straight bowl appearance and first bowl victory since winning the Peach Bowl in 2001. That was also the last time before Thursday that the Tar Heels played in a bowl game outside of North Carolina.

• Tennessee has now dropped its last two bowl games. It lost 37-14 to Virginia Tech last season in the Outback Bowl. The defeat also snapped a four-game winning streak for the Volunteers.
 

19 Comments on this post:

By: serr8d on 12/31/10 at 5:42

Heh. Finally a team in powder blue wins one at LP Field.

Tennessee kids played like a bunch of thugs and brats at the end. My God, when can the justified trailer park comparisons end ?

GO TARHEELS~!

By: richgoose on 12/31/10 at 8:29

The University of Tennessee has two different standards fo students. For the student that wants just an education the entrance requirements are much tougher than most people realize.

Unfortunately the University is being judged by the second standard, This one is for athletes who do not play tennis or lacrosse. If you can play football and basketball and are not currently in jail we will find a way to get you in and a course of study that will allow you to stay elgible for some period of time. We have coaches that will lie to the NCAA and we have coaches that are not dry behind the ears to guide you.

We expect the worst in you and we accept the worst in you. If you do not understand how serious we are about this creed just look at Daniel Lincoln.

By: joe41 on 12/31/10 at 9:36

Yogi Berra was right. It ain't over till it's over.

Joe

By: Nitzche on 12/31/10 at 12:16

nitzche says we need a Summit, call Barry and see if he is done wff his 23rd vacation in 2010 to arrange one on game ending time mgmt.

By: jwk6179 on 12/31/10 at 4:34

Heh. Finally a team in powder blue wins one at LP Field.

And a game at LP Field which was FILLED TO CAPACITY with FANS that actually GAVE A DAMN about what was happening on the field instead of the so-called "BEST FANS IN THE NFL" fans of the USUAL TENANTS.

By: richgoose on 12/31/10 at 5:33

Vanderbilt has shown this city how to lose for over 60 years. There is no better place to lose than Nashville, Tennessee

Someone shoud write a story about the two Babe Ruth baseball teams in the late 50's and early 60's that won National titles.

By: TITAN1 on 1/1/11 at 7:52

jw and frank, two peas in a pod. One is negative and a joy sucker, the other is just down right jealous of the Titans being in Nashville. I thought you might have matured entering 2011.

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.

By: serr8d on 1/1/11 at 8:01

j@jwk6179: And a game at LP Field which was FILLED TO CAPACITY with FANS that actually GAVE A DAMN about what was happening on the field instead of the so-called "BEST FANS IN THE NFL" fans of the USUAL TENANTS.

You speak out against the fans who've purchased PSL's for thousands of dollars, then every year since have purchased season tickets for more hundreds, thousands of dollars ?

I think we who've purchased season tickets have more 'skin in the game' than some fans who just show up on a one-time basis to watch a couple of the NFL's Minor League teams play. We've purchased the right to speak out at complete player ineptness (the game against the Jags, for instance) and outright stupidity (owner Bud (got Aricept?) Adams' bitterly clinging to a childe who, sure, did a fine job in the minors, but has proved to be nothing more than a petulant head case in the NFL, and will never be a leader of men because he hasn't the chops (#6 Wonderlic) for it.

We should've taken that minor league player Cutler, a true leader of men and a fine player in the NFL.

By: pepaw on 1/1/11 at 9:18

Whoever this serr8d charactor happens to be, may I suggest a simple attitude adjustment as your New Year's resolution. Maybe even a little soul searching about where you and your attitude actually exists in the world of "Realities".
If I were to guess, serr8d, you fit the stereo type Republican, looking down on the average person, you won't take the time for any issue that doesn't give you something in return.
Your attempt to expand your sportsmanship and knowledge, comes up extremely short of being that of the average sports fan, or person generally speaking.
I would suggest a look into your bathroom mirror, and see the actual jerk who is staring back at you. An apology to that image is really in order. The truth will make you a better person. It works, give yourself and especially those around you, a much needed break. "FOLLOW-UP"!
Get a life!

By: TITAN1 on 1/1/11 at 1:56

LOL! pepaw (first time I've seen that screen name, hmm) just described jw and frank.

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.

By: serr8d on 1/2/11 at 9:30

peepaw, a shame you don't have the chops to discuss the merits of my comment RE: the Titans. Instead of replying to the spot-on statements in my comment, that VY is pretty much a headcase and a failure in the NFL, at least at the starting QB position, and that owner Bud Adams is wrestling with personal private demons, not the least of which is a seething hatred of Houston going back to his early years of fights with fans and the city there; and that the pickup of Vince Young as 3rd pick in the 2006 draft flew in the face of Jeff Fisher's desires to take Leinart or Cutler because of VY's pitiable Wonderlic score(s). This issue has been brewing since then; and despite Jeff Fisher's work with VY, his support and his nurturing, he's done with VY. We see now the culmination of Bud Adam's poor, spiteful decision to take VY just to needle Houston: this team will asplode, one way or the other, shortly after today's game in Indy.

Jeff Fisher has been the glue that holds this franchise intact. Bud Adams has been kept at arm's length in Houston, but now he's asserting that Vince Young must stay. That's another poor choice, compounding his first in 2006, AFAIC.

No matter that your comment (largely a big-screen projection of your own flaws that it is) is unfounded and well off the mark, the fact is that you've failed to discuss this issue.

Methinks you're a VOLS fan. Sorry about your loss, but that's not the problem of the Titans, and issues VOLS are the furthest from Titans' concerns at present.

Either a VOLS fan, or Bud (Got Aricept?) Adams hisself.

By: serr8d on 1/2/11 at 9:31

TITANS1, you're the best cheerleader the Titans have ever had. You do look so good in that short skirt, really~!

By: TITAN1 on 1/2/11 at 12:19

Why thank you serr, and I where it proudly!

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.

By: jwk6179 on 1/2/11 at 1:15

pepaw (first time I've seen that screen name, hmm)

So everytime someone new post here and they don't agree with your POLYANNA VIEW OF THE TITANS, you automatically ASSUME that it is a number of other POSTERS posting under yet another name.
How do we kKNOW that you, TITAN1, serr8d, House of Pain, and any other poster exspouting you PRO BUD ADAMS PROPAGANDA, aren't ALL THE SAME PERSON?

And @$$holes always worship at the FEET of BUD ADAMS, VINCE YOUNG and anyone associated with the TITANS!!!

By: TITAN1 on 1/2/11 at 2:24

GROW UP, JW. Then move to Green Bay and support your favorite AWAY team! Oh, I almost forgot, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.

By: serr8d on 1/2/11 at 3:09

Sorry, TITAN1, you're a good man. I personally just can't apologize all the time. I'm only critical when I needs be.

Jerk6179 isn't a fan of anything except his palm and a bottle of Jergens lotion. A sad little thinger, really.

By: TITAN1 on 1/2/11 at 3:50

No problem, serr!

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.

By: jwk6179 on 1/2/11 at 5:48

TITAN1, then why don't you move to HOUSTON so it won't be such a strain when you're KISSING BUD'S ASS. Plus, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Bud Adams is the most beloved Houstonian in all of history. And the Titans is still the city's most loved team...lol.

serr69d, you don't even KNOW me but you're making an accusation like that about me. Of course, I would rather stroke my own than to SUCK THEM like you and TITAN1 do!!!

And remeber, ONLY @$$holes and %@%&$uckers worship at BUD ADAMS FEET!!!

By: TITAN1 on 1/2/11 at 6:05

Fish out of water lose their cool so easily when their jealousy comes to the surface. As I have always said, it is your right to pull for another team somewhere else, but to always cut down the local home team and their fans makes you look childish.

Positive people always look at the glass half full and make the best of it and are happy most of the time. Negative people always find it half empty and complain and are miserable most of the time.