Count­ing Vols out too soon is un­wise

2 TDs in 30-sec­ond span of 4th quar­ter pins stun­ning loss on IU

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Mark Long

JACK­SONVILLE — Ten­nessee sure knows how to get out of a huge hole.

The Vol­un­teers scored twice in a 30-sec­ond span late, us­ing an on­side kick to help es­cape a 13-point deficit, and then held on to stun In­di­ana 23-22 in the Ga­tor Bowl on Thurs­day night.

The rally was in­dica­tive of Ten­nessee’s sea­son, which started 1-4 and ended with six con­sec­u­tive wins.

“Ev­ery­body in the coun­try had given up on th­ese guys,” sec­ond-year coach Jeremy Pruitt said.

Pruitt was talk­ing about the sea­son. He could have been talk­ing about the game.

The Hoosiers (8-5) looked to be in con­trol in the sec­ond half af­ter scor­ing two touch­downs in a 1-minute, 3-sec­ond span — the sec­ond on Ja­mar John­son’s 63-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn — and later adding a pair of field goals.

In­di­ana was up 22-9 be­fore Ten­nessee (8-5) shocked most of the nearly 62,000 fans on hand.

Quavaris Crouch scored on a 1-yard plunge and then fel­low run­ning back Eric Gray re­cov­ered a sur­prise on­side kick that barely went the manda­tory 10 yards. Gray scored from 16 yards out a few plays later to put the Vols on top for good.

“Ob­vi­ously, very very dis­ap­point­ing to have a fourth-quar­ter lead and let it slip away,” said In­di­ana coach Tom Allen, whose team was seek­ing its first nine-win sea­son since 1967.

“I’m not go­ing to sit here and point fin­gers and blame. At the end of the day, it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity for us to find a way to win the game. We didn’t do that.”

Gray was named the game’s Most Valu­able Player.

“It’s amaz­ing,” he said. “When ad­ver­sity hits, you got to put on more steam.”

Lo­gan Jus­tus missed an ex­tra point in the third quar­ter that turned out to be costly and was wide right on a 52-yard field goal at­tempt with 2:12 re­main­ing. Jus­tus’ kick had the dis­tance but sailed just out­side the right up­right.

Ten­nessee punted with 1:02 re­main­ing, but In­di­ana failed to get back into field­goal range.

The Hoosiers have to find a re­place­ment for of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kalen DeBoer, who stayed for the bowl game af­ter get­ting the head coach­ing job at Fresno State.

DeBoer gets much of the credit for In­di­ana’s of­fen­sive turn­around.

Ten­nessee: Jar­rett Guar­an­tano is far from guar­an­teed to be the team’s start­ing quar­ter­back next sea­son, es­pe­cially af­ter a twoin­t­er­cep­tion per­for­mance.

The Vols signed Har­ri­son Bai­ley from Ma­ri­etta (Ga.) High, and the in­com­ing fresh­man is ex­pected to en­roll this month and com­pete for the job in spring prac­tice.

Ten­nessee re­ceiver Jauan Jen­nings, who was sus­pended for the first half for step­ping on an op­po­nent in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale, had to wait un­til the fourth quar­ter to touch the ball. Jen­nings had re­cep­tions of 22 and 5 yards, set­ting up the first of the two late touch­downs.

Allen had a game-man­age­ment is­sue that might have cost his team points.

The Hoosiers moved the ball to the 6-yard line in the wan­ing sec­onds of the first half, but in­stead of call­ing time­out Allen had Pey­ton Ram­sey line up and spike the ball with 3 sec­onds re­main­ing. They could have used their fi­nal time­out much ear­lier, taken a shot into the end zone and still had time for a field goal.

In­di­ana played its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game with­out lead­ing rusher Ste­vie Scott. Scott warmed up with team­mates but did not play. Ten­nessee line­backer Daniel Bi­t­uli in­jured his right eye in the third quar­ter, re­turned on the next se­ries and could be seen cov­er­ing it with his hand to get calls from the side­line. In­di­ana tight end Pey­ton Hen­der­shot in­jured his right short on a tackle but later re­turned.

Ten­nessee fans showed no love for for­mer Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

The Head Ball Coach was one of sev­eral coaches and play­ers on hand for the 75th edi­tion of the Ga­tor Bowl. All of them played or coached in the bowl and were rec­og­nized on the field shortly be­fore kick­off.

The list in­cluded for­mer Ten­nessee coach and cur­rent Vols ath­letic di­rec­tor Phillip Ful­mer, Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame run­ning back Floyd Lit­tle, Ole Miss great Archie Man­ning, for­mer Ten­nessee quar­ter­back Joshua Dobbs and long­time Ten­nessee AD Doug Dickey, who played and coached at Florida.

Dobbs got the loud­est ova­tion.

Spurrier was roundly booed, hardly a sur­prise given that he went 8-4 against Ten­nessee as Florida’s coach (1990-2001) and had fa­mous lines like: “You can’t spell Cit­rus with­out U-T.“

In­jured quar­ter­back Michael Penix and sev­eral other of­fen­sive starters re­turn next sea­son, which be­gins with In­dian’s tough­est road opener since play­ing at then-No. 7 Notre Dame in 1991.

The Hoosiers open Wis­con­sin on Sept. 5. at

Ten­nessee: The Vols will have to re­place five key starters: re­ceivers Jen­nings and Mar­quez Call­away, lineback­ers Dar­rell Tay­lor and Bi­t­uli, and safety Nigel War­rior. Ju­nior guard Trey Smith could leave early for the NFL.

Ten­nessee opens next sea­son against Char­lotte on Sept. 5 and plays at Ok­la­homa the fol­low­ing week.

CALVIN MATTHEIS/AP

Ten­nessee wide re­ceiver Jauan Jen­nings (15) holds the tro­phy next to wide re­ceivers Mar­quez Call­away (1) and Josh Palmer af­ter the Vol­un­teers’ 23-22 win over In­di­ana in the Ga­tor Bowl on Thurs­day night in Jack­sonville.

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