Alabama can’t rocky top Tennessee, lose first game of season on last-second field goal
Published 7:36 pm Saturday, October 15, 2022
Chase McGrath made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 6 Tennessee a 52-49 victory over No. 3 Alabama on Saturday.
As soon as the kick knuckle-balled through the uprights, some of the more than 100,000 fans stormed the field to celebrate the Volunteers (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) ending a 15-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1). It didn’t take long for the goal posts to go down.
Hendon Hooker drove the Vols 45 yards in 18 seconds to set up the winner. Jalin Hyatt caught six passes for 207 yards and a Tennessee-record five touchdowns.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, a game-time decision because of a sprained right shoulder two weeks ago, completed 35 passes for 455 yards and two TDs.
Hyatt’s fifth TD catch tied it at 49 with 3:26 left in the fourth.
Young drove the Tide into the Tennessee territory in the final minute, but Alabama stalled at the 33 with three straight incomplete passes. Will Reichard’s 50-yard field goal attempt for the lead was wide way right.
With only 21 seconds left, overtime seemed likely, but Hooker wasn’t done and did the Heisman Trophy winner one better.
Hooker completed two passes for 45 yards, the second a 27-yard strike to Bru McCoy that gave Tennessee a chance for a makeable field goal — and McGrath came through to give the Volunteers its biggest victory in years.
A week after Alabama held Texas A&M out of the end zone on the last play of the game to dodge an upset, the Tide went down, losing to Tennessee for the first time under coach Nick Saban.
Tennessee’s up-tempo offense jumped out to a 21-7 first-quarter lead and led 28-20 at halftime. All four touchdown drives took over two minutes.
Young threw for 205 yards and a touchdown in the first half, while Hooker had 166 yards and two scores. Young wasn’t sacked, but was knocked down five times in the half.
Alabama fumbled Tennessee’s only punt. The Vols recovered and scored four plays later.
Two key Tennessee players weren’t available. WR Cedric Tillman, who sustained a high ankle sprain against Akron, didn’t play despite having surgery to speed up the recovery process three weeks ago. This was his third missed game … S Jaylen McCollough, a four-year starter, was arrested for aggravated assault last weekend. He had played in all 41 games since his freshman year with 32 starts.
BY THE NUMBERS
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker has thrown a touchdown pass in 18 consecutive games, tying Heath Shuler’s school record (1992-94), … In one possession in its own territory, Alabama had holding, motion and delay penalties and a fumbled snap that Bryce Young recovered. The Vols got the ball on the Tide 35 and scored four plays later. … Hooker’s third-quarter interception was his first in 260 passes.
Tennessee had the ball on the Alabama 2. Breaking from the norm, Hooker went under center rather than the shotgun as the Vols were lined up in the I-formation. Fullback Princeton Fant, a tight end who was recruited as a running back, had his first carry since 2018 and scored.
Alabama: Alabama didn’t have an answer for a Tennessee team that just wouldn’t give up. A late 49-42 lead slipped away.
Tennessee: This was a big jump forward for the program that Josh Heupel is building. Playing in a midseason game that has playoff implications is the first step toward getting a taste of the ultimate success.
Alabama: Hosts Mississippi State next Saturday.
Tennessee: Hosts Tennessee-Martin next Saturday.