RECAP: Alabama's second scrimmage play saw Vol defensive tackle Turk McBride storm through and hit QB Spencer Pennington just as he handed off to Kenneth Darby. The resulting fumble was picked up by Vol end Parys Haralson, who lumbered 18 yards to paydirt, giving Tennessee a 7-0 just 45 seconds into the game. After a three-and-out by the Tide, Tennessee advanced to the Bama 38-yard on its next drive before stalling. After another three-and-out by Alabama, Erik Ainge threw a quick hitch to Tony Brown, who bobbled the ball into the waiting hands of Bama linebacker DeMeco Ryans at the Vol 44-yard line. Two runs by Darby, a 10-yard pass from Pennington to Clint Johnson and a 22-yarder to Tyrone Prothro moved the ball to the Vol 2-yardline. Fullback Tim Castille scored from there, tying the score at 7-all with 5:55 left in the quarter. Alabama was driving again as the quarter ended, advancing to the Vol 18-yard line on a 10-yard run by backup fullback Le'Ron McClain.
KEY PLAY: Tony Brown's bobble that was intercepted by Ryans. Prior to that, Tennessee had all of the momentum and Alabama had yet to register a first down. Moments later, the Tide had a touchdown and considerable momentum.
KEY PLAYER: Pennington. He completed 2 of 2 passes for 32 yards on Bama's TD drive.
KEY STAT: Tennessee ran 11 plays and gained just 1 net yard in the quarter. The Vols were 0-of-4 passing. Seven rushes produced 1 net yard. Bama, meanwhile, had 91 yards on 21 total plays.
RECAP: Continuing a drive it began late in the first quarter, Bama reached the Tennessee 14-yard line before Jesse Mahelona and Kevin Burnett threw Darby for a three-yard loss on second-and-six. After an incomplete pass, the Tide settled for a 34-yard Brian Bostick field goal and a 10-7 lead. Derrick Tinsley finally gave Tennessee a spark, returning a punt 45 yards to the Bama 29-yard line. Afer an incompletion, Ainge hit Jayson Swain for 10 yards, then hit him again on a post route for the score, pushing Tennessee ahead 14-10 with 6:40 left in the period. A 27-yard punt by Dustin Colquitt gave Bama possession at the Vol 49-yard line with 1:10 to play but Turk McBride sacked Pennington for a six-yard loss to stem the Tide.
KEY PLAY: Tinsley's return. Tennessee had just 21 yards total offense prior to that play. Spured by the big return, the Vols promptly picked up 29 (and a TD) on their next three snaps.
KEY PLAYER: Tinsley. He was just about the only offensive weapon the Vols had in the first half.
KEY STAT: Tennessee had more yards on Parys Haralson's fumble return and Tinsley's punt return (63) than its offense managed (53) on 27 first-half snaps. Ainge was 5 of 15 passing for 44 yards and the Vols rushed 12 times for 9 net yards.
RECAP: Tennessee took the second-half kickoff and marched from its 20 to the Bama 23, setting up a 41-yard James Wilhoit field goal that widened the lead to 17-10 with 11:32 to play. The big plays on the drive were a 17-yard pass to Tony Brown and a 37-yard pass to Jayson Swain. Four rushing plays on the drive netted just 3 yards. Alabama had a third-and-one at its 36-yard line on the ensuing possession but Omar Gaither nailed Darby for no gain, forcing a punt. Tennessee marched from its 18 to the Bama to a third-and-one at the Bama 4 but Erik Ainge's pass was batted and intercepted by Cornelius Wortham at the Tide 2-yard line.
KEY PLAY: Wortham's interception. Tennessee finally had begun running the ball effectively, yet the Vols chose to throw on third-and-one at the 4. Even if a running play had been stuffed for no gain, Tennessee would've had a chip-shot field goal that would've produced a two-score lead (20-10). The pass was a very curious call with a very damaging outcome.
KEY PLAYER: Wortham. He kept Bama in the game at a time when Tennessee appeared ready to blow it open.
KEY STAT: After rushing 12 times for 9 yards in the first two quarters, Tennessee rushed 13 times for 46 yards in the third period against a depth-shy Bama defense.
RECAP: A 17-yard run on a reverse by Bama's Keith Brown helped the Tide move to the Vol 18-yard line. Jesse Mahelona sacked Pennington for a 15-yard loss, however, forcing Bama to settle for a 47-yard Brian Bostick field goal that left Tennessee on top 17-13 with 6:26 to go. Bama got the ball back one last time with 4:21 to go. A 15-yard pass from Pennington to Prothro moved the ball to the Tide 43-yard line. Jesse Mahelona and Kevin Burnett combined to stop Kenneth Darby for a three-yard loss, then Omar Gaither recorded another minus-yardage stop moments later. Pennington overthrew Prothro on a fourth-and-six bomb but Haralson was called for roughing the passer, giving Bama a first down at the Vol 37-yard line. Cory Campbell intercepted a Pennington overthrow two plays later at the UT 15-yard line, giving the Vols the ball with 46 seconds left and sealing the deal.
KEY PLAY: Campbell's interception saved the day, just when it appeared Alabama might make a miraculous comeback.
KEY PLAYER: Jesse Mahelona. His 15-yard sack forced Bama to settle for a field goal on its next-to-last drive and his hit on Darby that caused a three-yard loss were two of the biggest defensive plays of the game.
KEY STAT: Tennessee ran just six plays all quarter -- all Geald Riggs runs -- and gained a mere 14 yards. The Vol defense hung tough, however, and protected Tennessee's lead.