Neyland Stadium’s best and worst night games

Tennessee Athletics photo / Jason Witten’s 25-yard touchdown reception on a Casey Clausen pass in the sixth overtime gave Tennessee a 41-38 victory over Arkansas in 2002, which remains the longest game in Neyland Stadium history.
Tennessee Athletics photo / Jason Witten’s 25-yard touchdown reception on a Casey Clausen pass in the sixth overtime gave Tennessee a 41-38 victory over Arkansas in 2002, which remains the longest game in Neyland Stadium history.

HIGHS AND LOWS

Tennessee's five most memorable wins and losses in 50 years of Neyland Stadium night games:


THE WINS

1. Tennessee 20, Florida 17 (1998)

In Tennessee's only victory over Steve Spurrier's Gators from 1993 to 2000, Volunteers linebacker Al Wilson tormented a Florida offense that managed minus-13 rushing yards. When Collins Cooper couldn't answer Jeff Hall's field goal in overtime, legendary Vols announcer John Ward screamed, "No-sir-ree! No-sir-ree!" Ward then belted out the final score before adding: "Pandemonium reigns!"


2. Tennessee 45, Florida 3 (1990)

Tennessee has never produced a more dominant half, especially given the opposition. An anticipated showdown between the No. 5 Vols and No. 9 Gators turned into an absolute runaway when Dale Carter took the second-half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. Tennessee has never defeated Florida by a larger margin, and it was Spurrier's worst defeat during his 12 stellar seasons in Gainesville.


3. Tennessee 41, Arkansas 38 (2002)

A 25-yard touchdown pass from Casey Clausen to Jason Witten in the sixth overtime ultimately decided the longest game in Neyland Stadium history by far. The Vols led 10-3 entering the fourth quarter, when the fireworks started and took forever to stop.


4. Tennessee 28, Penn State 21 (1972)

The original remains quite special a half-century later. Haskel Stanback had a pair of rushing touchdowns in the first quarter to stake the Vols to a 14-0 lead, and his third score with less than nine minutes away sealed Tennessee's second triumph in roughly nine months over the Nittany Lions.


5. Tennessee 30, Florida 28 (2004)

In the greatest goat-turned-hero moment in Vols history, James Wilhoit drilled a 50-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining to atone for his missed extra-point attempt with less than four minutes to play.


THE LOSSES

1. Georgia 16, Tennessee 15 (1980)

This season opener in an expanded Neyland was going Tennessee's way when the Vols built a 15-0 lead, but Bulldogs freshman running back Herschel Walker scored two touchdowns — winning a memorable collision with safety Bill Bates along the way — to catapult Georgia to the first memorable triumph of its national championship run. A late opportunity for the Vols to prevail was doomed by a Glenn Ford fumble near the goal line.


2. Ole Miss 31, Tennessee 26 (2021)

Could somebody please pass the mustard?


3. Georgia 41, Tennessee 14 (2003)

The Vols were set to take a 14-13 lead into halftime until Casey Clausen fumbled and Bulldogs safety Sean Jones collected the ball and raced 92 yards for a stunning 20-7 lead. Completely deflated, Tennessee watched Georgia build a 41-7 lead in the second half.


4. Pick a Duke, any Duke

No team befuddled Tennessee in Neyland night games more than the pesky Blue Devils, who prevailed in 1976, 1982 and 1988. Spurrier was Duke's offensive coordinator for the 25-24 victory in 1982 and its head coach in 1988, when the visitors built a 31-7 lead before winning 31-26.


5. Florida 31, Tennessee 0 (1994)

Tennessee's first home game on a new natural grass field was a complete dud, as the Vols were shut out in Neyland for the first time since Alabama's 27-0 blanking of 1980.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

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