Tennessee Rally Falls Just Short In Mistake-Filled Trip to A&M

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    COLLEGE STATION, Tex. – The No.9 Vols (5-1, 2-1 SEC) have lived dangerously all season.

    It finally caught up to them on Saturday in a dramatic 45-38 double-overtime loss at No. 8 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) in front of 106,248 at Kyle Field – the second-largest crowd in A&M history.

    But not without one of the most back-and-forth finishes in recent college football history – one that rivaled UT’s miraculous finish in Athens last week, though it didn’t turn out the way the Vols wanted this week.

    The Vols, following the script of the past couple weeks, erased a 14-point deficit with 3:22 remaining in the game.

    Alvin Kamara finished off a quick 6-play, 65-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown with 2:07 remaining to cut it to one score. Tennessee kicked it deep on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Aggies a chance to finish the game off on that drive. Running back Trayveon Williams then took it 71 yards down the sideline for what appeared to be a game-clinching score.

    But Tennessee cornerback Malik Foreman tracked him down right before he scored, knocked the ball out through the end zone, and forced a touchback in what might’ve been the hustle play of the season.

    “That’s a never-say-die attitude,” Butch Jones said after the game, also noting that the Vols have executed similar plays in practice over the past couple years.

    And the Vols kept that attitude to the end.

    It took 1:08 to march 80 yards down the field on a game-tying drive capped off by an 18-yard touchdown reception by Kamara – who finished the game with 288 yards of total offense.

    There was more drama to come in regulation, however. The Aggies responded with a quick-strike drive of their own to set up a potential game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining. Kicker Daniel LaCamera shanked the 38-yarder, sending the game into overtime.

    The teams exchanged field goals in overtime before A&M quarterback Trevor Knight followed a nice pass to Christian Kirk with a 1-yard touchdown run in the second OT. The Vols couldn’t match after Dobbs sailed a pass intended for Ethan Wolf, that fell into the waiting arms of Armani Watts to end the back-and-forth affair. Dobbs took the blame in post-game interviews, saying he misread what Wolf was doing on the play.

    “I’m very proud of our kids – just the fight in them, the will to win,” Jones said after the game. “But you can’t turn the football over. You can’t have the penalties that we had. You have almost 700 yards of offense, and you can’t turn the football over. It’s the details, especially when you go on the road.”

    Those details ultimately cost Tennessee in a game where it out-gained the Aggies 684-592. Tennessee turned the ball over eight times, committed 12 penalties for 84 yards, and regularly shot itself in the foot despite the gritty effort.

    “It’s dumbfounding,” Jones added. “We may work on ball security for 25 minutes in each practice next week.”

    Who all will be on the field for those practices remains a mystery as well.

    Jones said he will no longer address injuries after facing questions about the status of running back Jalen Hurd all week, who ended up not traveling to College Station. The Vols had at least 10 players go down with various injuries throughout the course of the game on Saturday – the most serious one appearing to be senior defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, who was carted off the field.

    Tennessee confirmed that O’Brien has movement in all his extremities, and he is flying back to Knoxville Saturday night. Jones, nor any teammates, commented any further on O’Brien’s status.

    He’ll be one of several, including linebacker Cortez McDowell and center Dylan Wiesman, who will be added to a growing injury list for the Vols that already included Hurd, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton and Darrin Kirkland Jr.

    Jones noted that No. 1 Alabama won’t feel sorry for the Vols, however. Tennessee flies back to Knoxville still in control of its own destiny in the SEC East, but bruised and battered as it gets set to face the best team in the nation.

    “Now you have Alabama coming in, and that’s life in the SEC,” Jones said. “It’s not for everybody.”

    “This is a resilient group,” he added. “They never crack; they never waiver. We have to start paying more attention to the details to give us an opportunity to win the football game.”