Friday, July 08, 2005

My 10 Most Memorable UT Football Moments

My 10 Most Memorable UT Football MomentsThis will have a limited audience appeal, but it's about Tennessee football, so...who cares? ;)

Mind you, these aren't necessarily my favorite moments, merely the most memorable - some of them are not so nice to remember... But most of them are! And if you want to play, too, remember they all have to be moments you witnessed live, either in person or on TV or radio. No videotaped events.

10) The 1981 Garden State Bowl, listening to John Ward call Willie Gault's kickoff return that won the game. We were driving back from Atlanta at were able to catch the game on the radio.

9) James "Little Man" Stewart's ill-fated one yard goal line run that didn't...quite...make it at home against Alabama in, oh, 1995 or so. Tennessee was down by less than a touchdown in the waning seconds of the game and we had driven all the way to the 2 yard line. The crowd was in a frenzy...the seconds were ticking last chance to score - then Stewart is stuffed at the goal line, time runs out, and I feel the biggest deflation in Neyland Stadium crowd history as we all sit there in silence, stunned. Other Alabama memories were sitting in the pouring rain watching the Tide pound the Vols in 1981, dancing with joy the next year as I listened on the radio to the final touchdown pass to Vincent Carter that finally broke Tennessee's 11-game losing streak to the Tide, and watching the Bama's potential game-winning kick go wide as it came right toward me in the 1985 game in Tuscaloosa. Tony Robinson had had his leg snapped almost in half earlier in the game on that day.

8) In the final seconds of the 1984 Kentucky game at home, QB Tony Robinson is driving the Vols for a winning touchdown. He throws the ball out of bounds to stop the clock - on fourth down. Ball turns over, Kentucky runs out the clock and wins. That was the last time we lost to Kentucky since.

7) The 1996 Citrus Bowl vs Ohio State: The Buckeye quarterback pitches to Heisman Trophy winner and future Tennessee Titan Eddie George on a play that might have resulted in a winning touchdown. The pitch goes awry, hits George in the back and falls to the turf, where it's pounced upon by alert Vol defenders. Tennessee goes on to win the game.

6) The 1992 Hall of Fame Bowl vs Boston College: This play is not that memorable in the grand scheme of Vol history, but it stands out because it was the quintessential catch by my favorite Vol receiver, Craig Faulkner. Faulkner was the ultimate go-to guy - he could catch anything thrown to him...behind the back, over the shoulder, wherever. Vol QB Heath Shuler needed a completion, and needed it badly. On 3-and-a-mile, Shuler throws it over the middle to an open Faulkner, who catches the ball behind his back for a first down. I was at that game, and it will stick in my mind forever.

5) 2000 Tennessee vs Florida - Jabbar Gaffney's Touchdown/No Touchdown reception from Chris Leak Jesse Palmer in the last few seconds to give the Gators 27-23 win in Knoxville. This was one of the most heartbreaking moments in UT history, made worse because of the controversial nature of the call. Gaffney touched the pass for the briefest of moments - in fact, it basically hit him in the gut, he wrapped his hands around it and then the ball squirted out and hit the turf. The ref awarded him a TD, citing the rule that the receiver need only possess the ball for a moment - in his mind, a moment being roughly the equivalent of the half-life of Hydrogen-6.

4) Tennessee vs. Notre Dame in 1991, "The Miracle at South Bend": was brought about by two major plays: a) trailing by a whopping 31-7, Tennessee defenders block a Notre Dame field goal in the final seconds of the first half and run it back 85 yards for a touchdown which cuts the lead to 31-14. b) Tennessee has come back to lead 35-34 in the last moments of the game. Notre Dame attempts a game-winning field goal that is blocked by DB Jeremy Lincoln's butt - John Ward initially calls the play wrong and says the kick is good. He then corrects himself and says, "The kick is in the air, the kick is high and it's...GOOD! No, it's No Good! It is NO GOOD! - it is NO GOOD!!.

3) UT vs. Iowa in the 1987 Kickoff Classic - Iowa is driving near the end of the game and is at our 4 yard line. Their QB runs an option right and pitches out to his tailback - but Vol LB Darryl Hardy bursts through the line, picks off the pitchout in midair and rumbles, bumbles, stumbles 96 yards for a touchdown. The poor guy can't run a 40-yard-dash in 5 minutes and he's surrounded by a phalanx of Vol blockers that constantly circle him, keeping Hawkeye tacklers away. Hardy spends the next 3 years in an oxygen tank. ;)

2) The 1985/86 Sugar Bowl vs Miami - We were down by 7 early in the game until our defenders broke through and Orange Crunched Vinnie Testaverde in the backfield. Later in the game a potential TD in the end zone was fumbled, but fallen on by receiver Tim McGhee for a touchdown. I was the tip of the eagle's beak in the halftime show, which judging by the crowd reaction was the biggest adrenaline rush I'd ever experienced...

1) Any play from the 1998 National Championship Season. I mentioned them in my previous post.

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