After rushing for just 16 yards on three first-half carries, Hardesty put the Vols on his shoulders in the final two quarters, rushing 17 times for 124 yards to finish with 140 yards on 20 carries.
The celebration of Hardesty's performance was tempered, however, by the misfortune that befell Reveiz, a 5-foot-10 former walk-on who calls the defensive signals and is one of the team's inspirational leaders.
"That's a big hit to us," head coach Lane Kiffin said on his post-game show. "Nick is a true Tennessee player. The heart he plays with, the passion he plays with, is exactly what we expect our team to play with. If we had a lot of guys like him we'd win a lot of games.
"That's a big loss for us."
Although Ohio U was a 21-point underdog, the visiting Bobcats gave Tennessee fits and still had a chance to win until Daniel Lincoln nailed a career-best 49-yard field goal with six minutes left that boosted the lead to 11 points.
The see-saw battle saw Tennessee drive 69 yards on its opening possession, Hardesty scoring the game's first touchdown on an 11-yard run with 11:47 remaining in the first quarter.
The game's second touchdown would follow just 13 seconds later. Ohio's Chris Garrett returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to tie the score at 7-all with 11:34 left in the initial period.
After a deflected Jonathan Crompton pass was intercepted by Ohio's Noah Keller, the Bobcats advanced 30 yards in just four plays to go up 14-7 on a two-yard touchdown pass from Theo Scott to LaVon Brazill.
Tennessee tied the score at 14 when Crompton hit Brandon Warren with a three-yard TD pass on the final play of the quarter.
The Vols went up 21-14 when defensive end Chris Walker intercepted a screen pass and scored from seven yards out.
The two teams swapped field goals in the final minute of the half, Ohio's Matthew Weller hitting from 36 yards with 40 seconds left and Lincoln answering from 38 on the final play of the half to give the Vols a 24-17 halftime margin.
Weller hit from 18 yards to narrow the gap to 24-20 in the third quarter but Tennessee guessed right on a Bobcat blitz and a screen pass to Bryce Brown produced a 26-yard touchdown and a 31-20 lead.
The game's key play occurred mere seconds into the fourth quarter. Crompton was scrambling near the west sidelines when he was hit and fumbled. Ohio's Keller picked up the ball and rambled 46 yards for an apparent touchdown. The replay official ruled Keller stepped out of bounds as he was scooping up the ball, however, which gave possession back to Tennessee.
Weller booted an 18-yard field goal that whittled the lead to 31-23 with 10:38 left but Lincoln answered with his clutch 49-yarder minutes later to seal the deal.
Tennessee limited OU to 21 rushing yards on 17 carries but allowed Scott to complete 30 of 52 passes for 319 yards. The UT secondary was without Dennis Rogan, who missed the game on a disciplinary suspension. Crompton finished 17 of 34 for 222 yards with two TDs and one interception.
In the end, Kiffin was more relieved than pleased with the victory.
"Obviously, there's a lot of things we're disappointed about," he said. "We want to play better in all three phases than we did today. But we got the win, which is what matters in the end."