Sunday rewind: Alabama 19, Vols 14

Sunday rewind: Alabama 19, Vols 14

October 25th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones reacts during the final minutes of his team's 19-14 loss to Alabama in an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones reacts during the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Tennessee led eighth-ranked Alabama by one with less than six minutes to go on Saturday, but the Crimson Tide made the key plays down the stretch to notch a 19-14 victory for their ninth straight win in the rivalry.

Here's a look back at the key players, numbers and moments from the game for the Volunteers.

SATURDAY'S STAR

Tennessee's two Jalens each had standout games. Running back Jalen Hurd grinded out 92 tough yards on the ground against the SEC's best run defense, and Vols coach Butch Jones said after the game he deserves more consideration as one of the best backs in the country. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin led a valiant effort defensively with 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss and his team-leading fourth sack of the season.

SATURDAY'S STAT

The Vols have led at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter in three of their four losses this season. Tennessee took a surprise lead with a lightning-quick four-play drive that Hurd capped with a touchdown run with 5:49 to go, but ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley made great catches against good coverage on Alabama's answering drive. The Vols couldn't hold late leads against Oklahoma or Florida, either.

Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson (86) recovers a fumble caused by the sack of Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) by Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson (22) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson (86) recovers a...

Photo by Butch Dill

TURNING POINT

Tennessee had a chance to drive 75 yards for the winning touchdown in the final two minutes, but the drive never really got going. An illegal formation penalty wiped out a short completion to Josh Smith that got the Vols to Alabama's 40. Quarterback Josh Dobbs was sacked on first-and-15, and after a timeout, Ryan Anderson and A'Shawn Robinson combined for the game-sealing sack-fumble.

HIGHLIGHT PLAY

The first play of the Vols' go-ahead was an excellent play call and was executed well. Dobbs faked a handoff and rolled out to his left before throwing back right to an open Josh Smith for a 27-yard gain into Alabama territory. Tennessee was in the end zone three plays later. Tennessee's run that play successfully a few times in the past couple of years, but it made its debut this season in a crucial moment.

WHAT IT MEANS

Four losses by 17 points. That is the difference between 3-4 and perhaps an unblemished 7-0 record. Jones again stressed the importance of closing out games and making the winning plays in crunch time, but Tennessee again fell short in those areas. The Vols missed out on what would have been the program's biggest win in some time, but they should be favored to win their final five games.

Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2) outruns Tennessee linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. (34) and defensive back Brian Randolph (37) for the go ahead touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won 19-14. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2) outruns Tennessee...

Photo by Butch Dill

BY THE NUMBERS

24: Tennessee narrowly ended a 24-game losing streak against top-10 teams. The skid dates back to a 51-33 win at Georgia in 2006. The Vols did beat No. 11 South Carolina in 2013 during head coach Butch Jones's first season. Tennessee's road losing streak against ranked teams is now up to 23 games.

5: After recording just nine sacks in the season's first six games, Tennessee racked up five on Saturday as the defensive line played arguably its best game of the season. Corey Vereen made two of those plays in what may have been the best performance of his career. It's the most sacks an opponent has recorded against Alabama since Oklahoma had four when it knocked off the Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. The Vols also had 10 tackles for loss to go with those sacks. "That's productive," Jones said.

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker is hit by Tennessee defensive linemen Owen Williams, bottom, and Corey Vereen during Saturday's SEC matchup in Tuscaloosa. Alabama coach Nick Saban and his players noted the improvement of this year's Vols over recent Tennessee teams.

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker is hit by Tennessee...

Photo by Michael Patrick

143 and 114: The Vols allowed a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver for the fourth game in a row. Derrick Henry led Alabama with 143 yards on 28 carries, but that was expected against the SEC's No. 11 run defense. ArDarius Stewart hauled in six passes for 114 yards, joining Florida's Antonio Callaway, Drew Morgan of Arkansas and Georgia's Reggie Davis in topping the century mark against the Vols.

3:25: The Vols held a 14-13 lead for three minutes and 25 seconds before Henry scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:24 left. Tennessee had led for only 14 minutes and 14 seconds during its previous eight losses to the Crimson Tide. Tennessee's lead in the fourth quarter on Saturday was its first against Alabama since 2011.

144: Tennessee rolled up 144 yards of offense on its opening two drives of the game, but those possessions netted only seven points. Aaron Medley missed a field goal after Tennessee went backwards following a first-and-10 at the 19-yard line following Alvin Kamara's 20-yard catch-and-run. The second ended in a touchdown that tied the game. Tennessee finished the game with 303 yards of offense.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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