Where there's a Pig, there's a way

Junior playmaker Alton Howard stepped up in the crunch to help the Big Orange earn its first Southeastern Conference win of 2014. Read more about the junior pass-catcher.

To rally from a two-touchdown deficit on the road in the Southeastern Conference, a team needs all hands on deck.

Alton Howard proved a valuable deckhand for Tennessee in its stunning 45-42 overtime victory at South Carolina on Saturday.

“I thought Alton Howard stepped up, made some big plays,” second-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.

With the Volunteers down 14 points at their own 25-yard line and less than 5 minutes to play, Howard was on the receiving end of passes that went for 12 and 26 yards to key a series that culminated with a Joshua Dobbs 3-yard touchdown run.

After the Tennessee defense forced South Carolina to go backwards 2 yards on three plays to get the ball back in the offense’s hand, the Orange & White had to go 85 yards in 83 seconds with zero timeouts. As any coach can easily demonstrate, those series must gain yards in chunks and not involve gains inside the boundaries unless first downs are made.

On the first play of the game-tying drive, Howard got open for a 31-yard reception. Four plays later, the Orlando native caught a ball to pick up 18 more to set Tennessee up in the red-zone, where it has scored 34 of 38 times.

“That last drive we had not timeouts so we kept pushing, pushing, pushing,” Howard said. “A couple of us were a little winded at times but due to our training, the way our expectation is at practice, it carried over to this game.”

Howard undoubtedly had help from his fellow Vols (45 points, 645 total yards) but the former Under Armour All-American contributed with the chips on the table to the tune of 138 all-purpose yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter in which he outran the Gamecocks defense to right sideline and cruised into the end zone.

Howard’s 109 receiving yards paired with Dobbs and Hurd to give Tennessee its first time in school history to have a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver.

In nine games this fall, Howard leads the Vols with 35 receptions for 401 yards.

The Vols need more of the “WIT” (Whatever It Takes) factor heading into the stretch run, needing two wins in three Southeastern Conference games to get to their first bowl Only redshirt seniors Matt Darr and Marques Pair were scholarship players on the 2010 Tennessee team that fell to North Carolina 30-27 in overtime in the Music City Bowl.

Butch Jones post-game video


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