A Dark and Stormy Night at Neyland Stadium
By: Josh Woodward
Septemeber 12, 2010
When Neyland stadium public address announcer Bobby Denton warned Oregon and Tennessee fans that inclement weather was within six miles of Neyland stadium Saturday night, the Volunteers had just taken a 6-0 lead and the capacity crowd rocking.
The game was suspended for a little over an hour, with most fans gathered under the stadium to keep dry and safe from the lightning. When play resumed the game changed. Tennessee was stopped on a fourth-and-six on the Oregon 30, then the Ducks marched downfield and kicked a 37-yard field goal.
The start of the second quarter went well for the Volunteers. A long pass from Matt Simms to freshman Justin Hunter advanced the ball to the Oregon 1-yard line. Tauren Poole, who had 141 first-half yards and 162 for the night, punched it in for the score to give the Vols a 13-3 lead.
Tennessee had the crowd back in the game at this point, and the momentum seemed to shift back to the Vols. In the final three minutes of the half, however, Oregon kicked a field goal and, aided by a costly personal foul penalty, scored a touchdown to forge a 13-13 tie.
�I was proud of how we came out and competed early in the game,� Tennessee's head man said, �but we screwed up the last three minutes of the half on all phases. We�re sitting there in pretty good command of the game. Then we get a three-and-out, we don�t change field position on the punt, then we have a bad penalty � not very smart � and we give up a big play.
�We went in at halftime tied, which is fine, but we didn�t have a good look in our eye at halftime."
The second half was all downhill for the Vols. Oregon scored a touchdown on its second possession of the half thanks to a brilliant 72-yard run by LaMichael James. Tennessee then drove to the Ducks' 27-yard line before an all-out blitz caused Matt Simms to make an ill-advised throw that was picked off and returned 76 yards for a touchdown by Cliff Harris.
Although the Vols were still in the game down 27-13, Dooley sensed this was the turning point.
�After we throw the interception I was really disappointed from then on in how we competed,� the coach said. �You would�ve thought we were down 40.�
Seventh-ranked Oregon added three more touchdowns thereafter to win going away.
Tennessee looks to bounce back with the start SEC play next Saturday as the Florida Gators enter Neyland Stadium.