Orange, White play to a tie

The bad news: Tennessee's spring football game ended in a tie. <p> The good news: It wasn't a SCORELESS tie.

''I was glad to see some points scored,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said moments after the Orange and White concluded a 21-all deadlock Saturday at Neyland Stadium. ''Offensively, our efficiency for the spring hasn't been very good.''

The Vol coach thought about holding an overtime period to break the deadlock but decided against it. One reason was that first-team defensive tackle Justin Harrell got hurt near the end of the game. Fortunately, the injury proved to be mild -- a sprained medial collateral ligament.

''We dodged a real bullet,'' Fulmer said. ''That's really good news.''

The news wasn't quite so positive in the quarterback race. C.J. Leak completed 12 of 17 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a pass as he was hit by Parys Haralson that was intercepted by Roshaun Fellows. Still, Leak performed efficiently enough that Fulmer said he has a slight lead over Rick Clausen coming out of spring drills.

Clausen struggled on Saturday, completing just 8 of 21 throws for 156 yards. He hit Robert Meachem for a 42-yard gain to the White's 12-yard line on the game's final play.

''C.J., percentagewise, had a better day,'' Fulmer said. ''On that last drive Rick kind of made a game out of it.''

With the top defenders split between two rosters, the offenses were able to make several big plays.

Leak hit C.J. Fayton over the middle on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the White a 7-0 first-quarter lead.

''The first touchdown -- C.J. Leak finding his second receiver -- is one of the things we've been looking for this spring,'' Fulmer said. ''That was really good to see.''

With Clausen struggling early, backup Jim Bob Cooter guided the Orange to the tying score, hitting fellow walk-on Casey Woods with a 7-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

The White threatened after a 62-yard kickoff return by walk-on Ben Greene but linebacker Ovince Saint Preux nailed walk-on Todd Vinson for a two-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line to stop the threat.

Touchdown runs by Cedric Houston and flashy walk-on David Yancey put the Orange up 21-7. Cornerback Antonio Gaines tried unsuccessfully to intercept a quick hitch from Leak to Chris Hannon, however, and Hannon sprinted 69 yards to close the gap to 21-14.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Bo Hardegree tied the score with less than 5:00 remaining. Rolling to his right on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Hardegree threw a strike to walk-on Tony Hill.

Jabari Davis led all rushers with 85 yards on 13 carries. Houston added 83 on 15 carries and Yancey 78 on 14 rushes.

''We ran the ball better,'' Fulmer noted before qualifying: ''The defense was somewhat limited in what we allowed them to do, so I don't think we should have any delusions ... We've still got a lot of work to do.''

Hannon was the top receiver with four grabs for 105 yards. Meachem, getting his only contact work of the spring, added two catches for 65 yards. Fayton had three catches for 37 yards, Derrick Tinsley three for 35 and Jayson Swain three for 31.

''Whoever the playcaller is should've gotten Meachem the ball a lot more,'' Fulmer said. ''He looks like he's going to be a real playmaker.''

Meachem might've gotten the ball more except that the White usually assigned star cornerback Jason Allen to cover him. Allen did an excellent job in this endeavor, once stepping in front to intercept a Clausen pass intended for Meachem.

''They flipped Jason Allen with him, which was a great move,'' Fulmer said. ''I thought that was pretty slick.''

Tinsley made two of the game's biggest miscues -- losing a fumble at the end of a reception and misjudging a punt, which bounded off his leg and also was recovered by the White team.

''That won't be typical of his play, I don't think,'' Fulmer said.

The Orange finished with 335 net yards and an average of 5.7 yards per play. The White finished with 382 yards and an average of 6.7 per play.

''So much of what's going to happen for us has to come from the attitude of this team, led by the seniors -- how well they bond and work this summer,'' Fulmer said. ''Potentially, we're a real good football team, I think.''


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