Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker and Edward Kerns II
There was lots going on tonight at the 75th Tax Slayer Gator Bowl.. Fans pre-gaming to music.. halftime honorees, and some late offense. It looked like Tennessee had finally awoken from a three quarter offensive slump that saw them make several trips to the red zone and just throw them away.. literally.. to finally kicking their way to a 23-22 victory over Indiana.
After the Vols put the ball in the end zone for their first touchdown of the day it gave them new life and the aggressive coaching to go ahead and try an onside kick with the hopes of getting the ball back one more time and then secure a chance to kick for the win.
The Vols finished the 2019 season with six consecutive wins as Jeremy Pruitt continues to build Tennessee’s program back to a championship level.
“What a fantastic ballgame,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “The players on both teams, the way they competed in the game, I can’t say enough about Indiana, Coach (Tom) Allen and his staff and what a great job that they did. Then you look at our guys, it took 60 minutes, but our guys continued to scratch and claw and just kept trying to find a way. We kind of changed some things during the game a little bit on both sides of the ball, just trying to find something that was working.
“Offensively we got a drive going there in the fourth quarter. We scored there. We get the onside kick and punch it in, in three plays and kind of held on the entire — the rest of the way there.”
Indiana had ample time to regain the lead. The Hoosiers regained possession with 3:51 left, and the drive got off to a promising start with a 39-yard pass from Peyton Ramsey to Ty Fryfogle. However, the drive stalled. Darrell Taylor sacked Ramsey for a nine-yard loss before Logan Justus missed a 52-yard field goal.
The Hoosiers had yet another opportunity to win the game at the 48-second mark. Peyton Ramsey again started the drive hot, hitting a 24-yard pass and a 12-yard pass back-to-back before recording four consecutive incompletions to end the game on downs.
For the Vols the 1-4 start to the season seems like an eternity ago and it appears that Pruitt has finally turned the corner on what has been a rough go round for him in his second season.
Prior to Game 6 for the Vols, there were rumors floating around that the school would either fire him mid season or look for another option for the 2020 season… looks like they can reconsider and hopefully rebuild the team to the old Peyton Manning era where Volunteer football was really fun to watch.