Indiana Implodes in Final Five Minutes of TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
by: Steven Stremming
Photos by: Eric Thieszen, Excel Sports Publications, Thieszen Photography
We won’t talk about the onside kick just yet, but we will get to it later in the story for right now let’s talk about
the defense in the first half by both, Indiana and Tennessee.
While Tennessee started out moving the ball up and down the field easily the Indiana defense hung tough and allowed only six points in the first half while the Vols amassed 182 yards of offense while the Tennessee defense allowed only three points themselves, albeit Indiana’s mismanagement at the end of the half helped 24 yards out.
The second half of the Taxslayer Gator Bowl played in front of nearly 62,000 (61,789) and yes, the crowd was about 75\25 Vol fans; was decidedly different as Peyton Ramsey directed the best drive of the night for Indiana (12 plays, 69 yards that consumed nine minutes and fifty two seconds of the clock; that resulted in a Ramsey yard run and a Logan Justus extra point that put the Hoosiers up for the first time by a ten to six margin.
Things would get better for the Hoosiers as Jamar Johnson plucked the ball from the air and galloped 63 yards for the score to place Indiana up 16 to 6. Then in what would be part of the final score margin Justus went wide right with his extra point leaving the Hoosiers up by ten.
The remainder of the third and quarter saw the Vols and Hoosiers trade field goals for a 19 to nine Hoosier lead.
Logan Justus would add a third field goal from 30 yards out to give Indiana a 22 to nine lead at the start of the fourth quarter and had Indiana dreaming of capturing their first bowl victory since 1991’s Copper Bowl win over Baylor.
At this point Tennessee reinserted starting quarterback Guarantano.
Guarantano had been benched for throwing two interceptions in the first half for fellow freshman Brian Maurer.
This is the point where Indiana went into some sort of prevent defense which allowed the Vols to get a rhythm and march down the field, as easy as flour through a sieve.
Tennessee needed two minutes and fourty five seconds to carve up the Hoosier defense with a ten play 82 yard drive that culminated in a one yard plunge by Crouch and a extra point good from Cimaglia to narrow the score to 22 to 16.
Next up is where the column started the onside kick.
Head Coach Tom Allen didn’t have his team prepared for a possible onside kick; (in fact, I was telling those around me, wouldn’t this be something if Tennessee went for a onside kick) well, they did and as the ball broke over the ten yard barrier Earl Gray snagged it out of the air and fell on it giving the Vols they ball and more momentum.
Tennessee would keep that going in a lightning blitz that saw only three plays for fifty five yards, it included a huge catch by JuJuan Johnson and a nifty bit of traversing down the field by Vol running back, yep you guessed it, Earl Gray as he went in from 16 yards out to push the Vols back in front 23 to 22.
Indiana would have one last chance but Justus missed a field goal from over 50 yards out and then had one more chance but Ramsey threw the ball out of bounds on a fourth down attempt sealing the win for the Vols.
For the victorious Vols Gray ended the day with 14 carries for 86 net yards and Chandler would handle the rock twelve times for 35 net yards. Guarantano, the New Jersey native, would complete 18 passes out of 31 attempts and two picks for 221 yards. Palmer was the leading receiver with six catches for 68 yards.
Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey was the leading Hoosier ball carrier with 17 attempts for 54 net yards while Sampson James would carry the ball eleven times for a net 25 yards. Ramsey passed for 227 yards by completing 20 of 34 passes and one interception. Peyton Hendershot caught six passes for 67 yards while Nick Westbrook four for 48 yards and Ty Fryfogle had three catches for 63 yards.
Tennessee rushed the ball for 136 net yards while Indiana rushed the ball for 76 net yards.
Tennessee passed the ball for 238 net yards while Indiana would pass for 227 net yards.
Jerome Johnson would lead the Hoosiers defense with six total tackles while To’oto To would lead the Vols with eight.
Officials for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl were: Michael McCabe, Bryan Hay, Cravonne Barret, Tim Messuri, David Ross, Brad Glenn and Bernie Hulscher along with Chris Wiggins.