And that was a d*mn good answer :)

So the TV crew is interviewing fans during pre-game festivities about their thoughts on the Tennessee / Vanderbilt rivalry.   A gentleman dressed in black and gold made the following comment:

” the Vandy UT rivalry is all about pride. And about what is best for Tennessee.. and shows the best for Tennesse”

And a gentleman dressed in Orange standing next to him replied:

“And that was a damn good answer”

This game turned out pretty close to what I expected.  After starting fast, the Vols let the Commodores stay close with little mistakes.  The Vols would show glimpses of greatness, the opening and closing drives of the 1st half were masterful.  But more often than not, something would break down and prevent a runaway victory.

The Vols took the opening kickoff and with Montario Hardesty hammering down-field, complemented by a 10 yard straight ahead blast by Bryce Brown and a nice throw-and-catch from Jonathan Crompton to fullback Kevin Cooper down the left sideline, found themselves with a 1st and goal at the 5.  Hardesty took it home from there and the Vols found themselves with a quick 7-0 lead.

Following the kickoff, the defense forces a 3rd and long which Vandy fails to convert.  With a poor punt the Vols get good field position for their second drive at their own 39.

Another nice throw by Crompton to Gerald Jones, and the hard running by Hardesty gets to the ball to the Vandy 26, where the Vols choose to keep it in the air.  Two incompletions an a short toss to Denarius Moore leaves the Vols with a 4th and 4 at the 20.  Coach Lane Kiffen chooses to go for it and Crompton delivers with a toss to Tauren Poole that gains 9 to the Vandy 11.

A holding call on 2nd down backs the Vols up, but Hardesty gets 8 yards closer with 2 hard runs.

And the kick is good!

At this point, after winning an open tryout, walk-on kicker Devin Mathis converts a 25 yard field goal.

This one definitely made it over the line.

In this game, Warren Norman of Vanderbilt broke Herschel Walker’s SEC freshman record for all-purpose yards.  Norman gained 73 yards rushing and had 61 yards on kickoff returns, giving the Vandy fans hope that next year might be brighter.

For those that missed the TV replay of Herschel running over the top of UT’s Bill Bates, here is the highlight:

At this point, Vandy starts to get back into the game. Primarily behind the running of  Zac Stacy, the Commodores drive the ball to the UT 14 where they stall.  Ryan Fowler converts on a 31 yard field goal and the score is UT 10, Vandy 3.

A penalty on the kick-off return results in poor field position for the Vols at their own 14.  A hard 10 yard run by Hardesty and a throw outside to Jones moves the ball to the Vols 47.  After 3 short gains, the Vols are faces with a 4th and 1 at the end of the 1st quarter.  Kiffin again chooses to go for it on 4th down and  Cooper gains the necessary yardage on a direct snap. The Vols are called for holding on the play and the 1st down was negated.

Stacy receives the punt on his own goal line and returns it to the 15,  but a penalty backs up the Commodores to their own 8 yard line.  From there, they begin the longest touchdown drive of the season.  After losing 5 yards on 1st down, Norman bangs his way out to the 25, where UT safety Eric Berry is called for a personal foul.  The ball is at the Vandy 43.

Three pass completions by Vanderbilt QB Mackenzi Adams moves the ball to the UT 27.  After a questionable pass interference call against Rico McCoy the ball is at the UT 13, 1st and 10.  Two hard runs by Norman and a dive by  Kennard Reeves and it is 1st and goal at the 2. Adams keeps the ball and cuts back against the grain to score and the game is tied, UT 10, Vandy 10.

Vols Celebrate in the End ZoneThe Vols take the kickoff and methodically drive down the field, keyed by passes from Crompton to Quintin Hancock and Moore.  Crompton finishes the 11 play, 72 yard drive with a toss from the 11 to Denarius Moore who makes a great catch on the chalk of the goal line.   Vols 17, Vandy 10.

Vandy attempts a reverse on the kickoff and and takes over on their own 26 with 3:16 left in the half.  A throw down the middle to Brandon Barden moves them out to the 43.  After 4 running plays the ball is at the Tennessee 41, 2nd and 5, with 51 seconds left and Vandy calls timeout.  A short completion is 2 yards short and the Commodores go for it on 4th down at the Tennessee 38.   The 4th down pass attempt is incomplete and the Vols take over with 35 seconds remaining.

On 1st down, Crompton completes a pass to Hancock that gains 12 yards, and Vandy is assessed a 15 yard penalty for roughing the passer.  Crompton then hits Hardesty with a pass that moves the ball to the Vandy 22, timeout Tennesse, 16 seconds before the half expires.  On 2nd down Crompton hits Luke Stocker, who makes a great catch in the end zone.

The half ends with the score UT 24, Vandy 10.

The second half opens with Vandy backed up at their own 12 after a penalty on the kick-off. After failing to get a first down the punt is returned by Rogan to the UT 30.  A run by Hardesty moves the ball to the UT 48, where  David Oku bobbles a pass from Crompton and the ball is intercepted and returned to the Vols 44.

Behind the rushing of Norman the Commodores move the ball before stalling at the UT 10. Fowler converts the 27 yard field goal and the score is UT 24, Vandy 13.

Oku returns the kickoff to the 31.  Hardesty and Brown move the ball to the Vanderbilt 39, where on 3rd and 1, a late hit by Chris Scott backs them up 15.   Crompton’s next attempt to Jones down the middle, which would have been a sure touchdown, is dropped. On 4th and 16 the Vols punt.

After trading punts, the Vols mounted a drive in the 4th quarter that moved to the Vanderbilt 36, where on 4th and 4, Crompton threw incomplete to Stocker.

After another trading of punts, Vanderbilt drove the ball on 11 plays from their own 31 to the Tennessee 14 where the drive stalled. Following a 32 yard field goal by Fowler the score is UT 24, Vandy 16, with 2:54 remaining in the game.

Tennessee recovers the onside kick and attempt to kill the clock with Hardesty. On 4th and 3 and the Vanderbilt 23, Hardesty is held for a gain of 2 and the Vols turn the ball over with 26 seconds left.

Wes Brown closed the scoring by intercepting a desperation pass by Adams and returned it 25 yards for the touchdown.  Final score, UT 31, Vandy 16.

Game MVPThe most valuable player of the game was Montario Hardesty, who gained 171 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. Jonathan Crompton managed the game well, had an interception that was not his fault, and had one pass dropped that would have been a touchdown. He completed 2o of 35 passes for 221 yards, and 2 touchdowns.

The defense held a strong Vandy rushing attack to 123 yards and 174 yards passing.

Inopportune penalties resulted in loss of momentum and key yardage.  With more discipline the Vols may have been able to put up another 2-3 scores.

The last question is whether this man has walked through the tunnel for the last time?


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One response to “And that was a d*mn good answer :)”

  1. norcalvol says :

    No doubt that Eric Berry has done his last hitting in Neyland Stadium. I can’t fathom him coming back. I don’t think it would be a smart move on his part, because you can’t risk top-5 or -10 draft pick money with possible injury or an off-year.
    Berry is probably the most popular defensive player to every wear the Orange. We have had a slew great defensive players, and wouldn’t it be an interesting argument to assess where Eric stands in the pantheon of Vol defenders. But he has to win the popularity contest.

    The Wes Brown interception/TD was a fitting end to a horribly frustrating career to an Alabama-born Vol. Read this very fine post by GhostOfNeyland at 3SIB:

    http://www.3sib.com/2009/11/22/a-heroic-senior-night-for-brown/

    ssmart55: the opening to this post was priceless stuff.

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