Jeremy Pruitt decided against kicking a field goal on fourth-and-four from the Arkansas 25-yard line late in the fourth quarter of Tennessee’s 24-13 loss to the Razorbacks.
With his team trailing by 11, a field goal would have made it an eight-point game, thus giving the Vols a chance to tie the game with a successful two-point conversion on their following drive. Tennessee did find itself in that position, as it got the ball back once again.
“We wasn’t close enough, didn’t feel like,” Pruitt told reporters over Zoom following the game. “So we felt like we had a good play there. We just didn’t get it done.”
True freshman Harrison Bailey threw an interception on the fourth-and-four play. Bailey tried to find Jalin Hyatt on a slant over the middle of the field. The Arkansas defensive back arrived early and likely should have been called for pass interference. Instead, the ball was deflected into the air and picked off by a Razorback defensive lineman.
“I felt like we were at a good spot to get the first down,” Pruitt said. “We knew that we needed two scores. It’s fourth-and-three there, I guess is what it was.
“I know (Brent) Cimaglia had made a couple there. But again, he was kind of a game-time decision there and we just felt like that was probably the best spot at the time.”
Cimaglia would have been attempting a 42-yard field goal had Pruitt elected to kick. Tennessee’s senior kicker had already made a 50-yard and 48-yard field goal on the night.
The Vols defense did give the offense the ball back following the Bailey interception. At that point, Tennessee needed a quick touchdown, a successful onside kick, and another quick score. A highly unlikely scenario. Had Pruitt elected to kick the field goal, UT could have tied the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Tennessee returns home next Saturday to take on No. 7 Texas A&M. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Aggies are coming off of a dominating 48-3 win over South Carolina on the road.