Poor clock management and a bad snap by LSU sent the Volunteers team rushing onto the field in jubilation with Rocky Top blaring in front of a stunned crowd of 92,932 in Tiger Stadium.
For a few moments, it looked as if Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC) had pulled off the upset over 12th-ranked LSU (5-0, 3-0) in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday.
Instead, the Vols were called for illegal participation for having 13 players on the field, giving the Tigers one untimed play, where running back Stevan Ridley scored a 1-yard touchdown to send the Tiger faithful into a frenzy and to give LSU a 16-14 victory over Tennessee.
UT first-year coach Derek Dooley was visibly upset and still in a bit of disbelief following the game, as he thought his team was not given the proper time to make substitutions, which resulted in the illegal participation penalty.
“I’m proud of our football team,” Dooley said in his post-game press conference. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a loss like that. I guess we’ll get right to the last play. They changed personnel and ran a bunch of guys on the field. The rules are (the referee) should stand over the ball and give us a chance to substitute. I am going to have to look at the film and see if that was the case.
“Things happened fast and guys didn’t run off the field. The ball was snapped pretty quickly, and so we lose the game. I don’t know what else to say.”
This substitution fiasco comes one week after the Vols played with only 10 defensive players for two plays against UAB in the second overtime period.
The UT defense tried to switch from its goal line package to its base package after LSU ran three receivers on the field, and the confusion caused two defensive linemen to stay on the field, when they should have gone to the sidelines.
Regardless, the Vols suffered a heartbreaking loss in a game where they went toe-to-toe with a much more talented squad in their first road game of the season.
Vols’ quarterback Matt Simms displayed his toughness once again, getting pressured all game from a Tiger defense, which recorded five sacks on the Vols’ signal caller. Despite the constant pass rush, Simms completed 12-of-23 passes for 123 yards and added a rushing touchdown.
Simms benefited greatly from the return of receiver Gerald Jones, who had been out since breaking a bone in his hand in the season-opening UT-Martin game. The senior caught five passes for 46 yards, both team highs.
Jones’ biggest addition to the UT offense was his ability to move the chains on third downs, an area the Vols struggled desperately in in their first four games of the season. However, they converted seven-of-15 third down conversions against LSU.
“The game was very physical,” Jones said. “I wasn’t worried about my hand. They were blitzing us from every angle. We couldn’t get the ball out, and we couldn't protect Matt (Simms).”
Running back Tauren Poole returned from a thigh bruise, which kept him out most of last week’s game against UAB, to rush for 109 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown.
All of the game’s scoring were in the first and fourth quarters.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson took the game’s opening snap 83 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
The Vols answered late in the first with Poole’s one-yard touchdown run.
After an LSU field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Vols put together its final scoring drive, going 71 yards in eight plays with Simms’ three-yard quarterback keeper putting the Vols up 14-10 with 11:34 remaining.
After Poole was stopped on a fourth-and-short at the LSU 31-yard line with 5:41 left in the game, the Tigers went on a 16-play, 69-yard drive, converting on a fourth-and-14 before Ridley’s touchdown gave the Bayou Bengals the win.
Senior middle linebacker Nick Reveiz could barely put his emotions into words following the game but was confident the Vols would rebound for next week’s game.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this in my life,” Reveiz said. “This is the biggest disappointment I’ve ever had in my life. The great thing is we’ve got another opponent next week, and we’re still excited to play, and we’re going to bring the same intensity."
In the locker room, Dooley told the team that the game’s outcome would be a chance for the each player and the team to grown on and off the field for the future.
“I told them I was proud of them, and that their character was going to get tested more (now) than it would ever get tested,” Dooley said. “That (game) is a great lesson in life. Sometimes you do everything right and things don’t go your way. All you can do is move on. That’s what we’re going to do.”
The Vols will move on this Saturday when they travel to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (1-4, 0-2) . The game will be televised on the SEC Network and will kick off at 12:21 EDT.
Late penalty helps LSU foil upset-minded Vols, 16-14
Published: Mon Oct 04, 2010 | Modified: Mon Oct 04, 2010 07:43 a.m.
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