Alabama's 34-14 win at Neyland Stadium snaps a seven-game losing streak to the Tennessee Volunteers. Prior to tonight's game, Alabama's last win was a 17-13 victory at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15, 1994.
The Vols seven-game winning streak was the longest winning streak by an opponent over the Crimson Tide.
With the win tonight, Alabama notches its 750th all-time football win. The Crimson Tide's all-time record now stands at 750-283-43 in 108 years of football.
The Crimson Tide has now won 10 of its last 12 football games, dating back to thje 2001 season. UA's current streak began with a 24-17 win over Miss. State on Nov. 11, 2001 at Tuscaloosa. Alabama closed out the 2001 season with four consecutive wins and has posted a 6-2 record this season. Alabama did not win its sixth game last year until the 11th game of the season, posting a 28-15 win over Southern Miss on Nov. 29 at Legion Field.
Alabama has also won six of its last seven SEC games dating back to the 2001 season.
With wins over Arkansas and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide has won back-to-back road games in the same season for the first time since 1999. Dating back to last year, Alabama has won its last three SEC road games, also for the first time since 1999.
Alabama recorded its longest scoring drive of the season in terms of plays (15) and time of possession (8:15). The previous long was 13 plays vs. Middle Tennessee and 6:38 TOP against Southern Miss.
Alabama had three new starters in its offensive and defensive lineup against Tennessee. On offense, Clint Johnston and Santonio Beard were new to the Alabama starting lineup, while Nautyn McKay-Loescher replaced Antwan Odom on the defensive line.
Johnston, a native of Prattville, made his first career start for the Crimson Tide at tight end. Beard, coming off a five touchdown performance last week against Ole Miss, made only his second career start and first of the 2002 season at tailback. Beard's only other career start came at Auburn on Nov. 18, 2001 in the Crimson Tide's 31-7 win on the Plains. Loescher made his seventh career start and third of the 2002 season at defensive end. Loescher also started against Middle Tennessee and North Texas.
*Alabama did not score on its opening possession for only the second time this season. The only other time UA did not score on its first possession came in a 27-25 loss to Georgia on Oct. 5 at Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide scored on its first possession against Middle Tennessee (TD), Oklahoma (FG), North Texas (FG), Southern Miss (TD), Arkansas (TD) and Ole Miss (TD). Against the Vols, Alabama went three and out on its opening possession, losing nine yards on three plays from scrimmage.
*Senior cornerback Gerald Dixon scored his first collegiate touchdown with a 66-yard fumble return with 11:23 left in the first quarter to give Alabama a 7-0 lead. Dixon's fumble return was his first career fumble recovery at Alabama. Prior to the Tennessee game, the last time an Alabama player scored on a fumble return came when Reggie Myles scooped up a fumble against Arkansas on Sept. 22, 2001. Myles 41-yard return gave the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead in the second quarter against the Razorbacks.
Dixon's fumble return for a touchdown is the third defensive touchdown by the Crimson Tide this season. In the season opener (Aug. 31) against Middle Tennessee, redshirt freshman middle linebacker Freddie Roach scored on a 41-yard interception return in the fourth quarter to give the Crimson Tide a 39-27 lead. Against Georgia, redshirt freshman Charlie Peprah recorded a 35-yard interception return with just over eight minutes left in the game to give the Crimson Tide its only lead against the Bulldogs 25-24.
Sophomore strong safety Chris James recovered a UT fumble at the Alabama 47-yard line with 3:51 left in the first quarter. It was the Crimson Tide's second forced turnover of the first quarter. Following the fumble, Alabama ran seven plays for 35 yards before junior kicker Kyle Robinson missed a 45-yard FG attempt on the first play of the second quarter.
The missed FG was Robinson's first missed kick dating back to his freshman year at Ranger Junior College. This year at Alabama, Robinson was 7-for-7 PATs and the 45-yard FG attempt was the first of his UA career.
Junior middle linebacker Derrick Pope stopped a UT drive with a fumble recovery at the Alabama 22-yard line with less than seven minutes left in the first half. Senior defensive tackle Jarrett Johnson caused the fumble. Alabama gave the ball right back when Sam Collins fumbled in the next play from scrimmage.
After moving to a third-and-five at the Alabama six-yard line, UT quarterback Casey Clausen was intercepted in the end zone by Alabama junior free safety Charles Jones. Jones' first career interception stopped a UT scoring threat with 3:16 left in the half.
Alabama and Tennessee combined for six first-half turnovers tonight. The Vols had three turnovers, including two fumbles, while Alabama had two turnovers (one fumble and one interception). Neither team had a turnover in last year's game at Tuscaloosa.
Alabama forced five turnovers in the Tennessee game, matching its season high. The Crimson Tide also forced five turnovers in its 20-7 win over Southern Miss on Sept. 21, 2002 at Tuscaloosa.
Following Jones' interception, Alabama scored its only offensive touchdown of the first half as Beard capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run with 52 seconds left in the half. It was Beard's sixth rushing TD in his last two games.
Beard's 10-yard TD run was the first touchdown scored by the Alabama offense off an opponent turnover since the North Texas game on Sept. 14. During that span, UA has forced 16 turnovers. The defense scored twice off those turnovers (Peprah vs. Georgia and Dixon vs. Tennessee) and Alabama added one field goal (Brian Bostick at Arkansas).
Junior wide receiver Zach Fletcher's 50-yard reception from redshirt freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle set up the touchdown run. It was Fletcher's second catch this season of 50 or more yards. Fletcher had a 50-yard TD reception in the Tide's 30-12 win at Arkansas on Sept. 28, 2002.
For the season, Fletcher has four receptions for 142 yards and one TD. The Moulton, Ala., native is averaging 38 yards per catch.
Following Beard's 10-yard TD run, Tennessee junior Mark Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for the Vols lone score of the first half, cutting Alabama's lead to 14-7. The last time an opponent returned a kickoff for a touchdown was Tennessee's Peerless Price in the Vols 35-18 win here in Knoxville on Oct. 24, 1988. Price's third-quarter kickoff return covered 100 yards.
Since the 1973 season, Alabama has allowed only three kickoff returns for touchdowns and two of those have been by Tennessee here in Neyland Stadium. The other kickoff return was by Ole Miss' John Avery (100 yards) in Oxford on Oct. 25, 1997. Alabama won that game 29-25.
Tennessee threw an interception on its opening possession of the third quarter as senior free safety Waine Bacon tipped Clausen's pass and sophomore defensive tackle Ahmad Childress picked off the pass. Childress recorded a 24-return to give Alabama a first down at the Tennessee 40-yard line with 12:27 left in the third quarter. The 24-yard interception return for the Nashville, Tenn., native was the first of his UA career.
Childress' 24-yard interception return was the 20th forced turnover by the Crimson Tide defense this season. The 20 turnovers have resulted in 40 points (5 TDs, 2 FG).
The UA defense has recorded at least one turnover in all eight games this season and 13 consecutive games dating back to last season. In those 13 games, Alabama has forced 28 turnovers. The last time Alabama did not force a turnover was in a 35-24 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 20, 2001 in Tuscaloosa.
Senior quarterback Tyler Watts gave Alabama a 24-7 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter when he scored on a two-yard run. It was Watts' first rushing TD since a 22-yard TD run against LSU on Oct. 28, 2001 at Tuscaloosa. The 22-yard TD run against LSU tied the game at 21-21 with 3:38 left in the third quarter. Watts' two-yard rush against Tennessee was his seventh career rushing touchdown.