Things got tense down the stretch, but the Tennessee Volunteers were able to get their first bowl win since 2016 on Thursday. The Volunteers defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 23-22 in the Gator Bowl, but it certainly took quite an effort to get there.
The game was in the pits for much of the first half. Tennessee held a mere 6-3 advantage over Tennessee after the first 30 minutes of action. Offense and points were hard to come by, as we expected it to in the preview for the game. The Hoosiers were intent on making magic happen in the second half, however.
And so they did. Peyton Ramsey scored a touchdown at the 9:29 mark to prop the Hoosiers ahead. Less than a minute later, Jamar Johnson ran back a pick six to propel the Hoosiers up further. Logan Justus missed the extra point, but the Hoosiers were now up by 10 points. Tennessee cut into that lead with a field goal, but Justus got it back with a field goal of his own.
The Hoosiers got another field goal from Justus early in the fourth quarter. With the score 22-9, Tennessee had their backs against the wall. And it didn’t seem like they were going to pull off the victory. But, Quavaris Crouch barreled into the end zone with 4:21 remaining to make it 22-16. The Vols then recovered the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Eric Gray rumbled in from 16 yards out at the 3:51 mark to get Tennessee out in front.
Indiana got two opportunities to get out in front, but Justus missed a 52-yard field goal and Peyton Ramsey couldn’t find Whop Philyor to end the game on a TOD.
Tennessee ends the year with an 8-5 mark. While they certainly had their struggles, winning as many games in a row as they did has to keep heads high in Knoxville at least for the interim. We shall see how things play out in 2020, but this was a nice way to end the season for them, especially with how it all began.