KNOXVILLE - Tennessee receiver Pig Howard accumulated a career-high 116 yards of offense in the heartbreaking 34-31 overtime loss to the sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
The sophomore needed only a few more inches to make the day even better.
After the Volunteers worked their way down to Georgia's 7-yard line on the first possession of overtime, Howard rushed to the right for 6 yards and made a dive for the pylon.
As he thrust the ball toward the goal line, it slipped from his hands and fell through the end zone out of bounds, resulting in a touchback for the Bulldogs.
Georgia's Marshall Morgan then kicked the 42-yard game-winning field goal.
"It's something you can't control sometimes when the ball slipped out of his hands," Vols linebacker Dontavis Sapp said. "He played a great game, and he made plays when we needed it. Unfortunately we had that play at the end. I told him, 'Don't hang your head. Keep playing.'"
Howard had one catch for 11 yards during the first quarter, but the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder from Orlando, Fla., sparked the offense in the second period with 23 rushing yards on jet sweeps and 37 yards through the air on a drive that ended in a 26-yard field goal, the Vols' only points in the first half.
In the third quarter, quarterback Justin Worley connected with Howard on 33-yard pass into Bulldogs territory. He then ran for 10 yards to Georgia's 19 yard-line. That work paid off with an acrobatic 19-yard touchdown catch by freshman receiver Marquez North.
"Pig is a dynamic player, and you never know what's going to happen when the ball is in his hands," Worley said. "We had some early success with him and we knew we wanted to get the ball to him early in the game, and that's why I think we kept going back to him."
Howard had a career day that was marred by a single play at the end.
"I just talked to him in the locker room," Worley said. "He's beating himself up right now, but we're only halfway through the season and he can't let that affect what he's doing. He's played phenomenal for us."
Contact Sam Gilbreath at email@example.com.