Tennessee remained unbeaten on the season as Chase McGrath booted in a 40-yard field goal to beat Alabama, 52-49.
Here’s four quick takeaways on a thriller.
Tennessee’s Offense Starts Red Hot
Tennessee’s red hot offensive starts that became frequent in Josh Heupel’s first season have been relatively rare this season. That changed on Saturday when Tennessee scored three touchdowns in its three first quarter drives.
The Vols first drive started at their own 44-yard line and Tennessee scored in seven plays and 1:58. Tennessee’s second drive started at its own 25-yard line and found the end zone in just five plays and 1:16 thanks to Hendon Hooker’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Hyatt.
Tennessee’s third drive started at Alabama’s 35-yard line after a bad punt and ended the same way, with Hooker finding Jalin Hyatt for a touchdown. Four plays, 35 yards and 1:02 off the clock.
In its first three drives, Tennessee averaged 9.4 yards per play, faced just two third downs and scored three touchdowns in just 4:16 time of possession.
Hooker And Keyton With Costly Misconnections
Alabama’s defense finally started stopping Tennessee in the middle part of the game, but it didn’t come without some missed opportunities from the Vols.
First, Tennessee rolled the dice on fourth-and-six at the Alabama 36-yard line. Hooker had Keyton open behind the Alabama defense but the pass fell just long as Keyton couldn’t haul in the ball in the end zone.
After Alabama kicked a field goal at the end of the first half, Tennessee got the ball to open the second half. The Vols quickly moved into Alabama territory and once again Hooker failing to connect with Keyton bit the Vols.
On second-and-13 Keyton got past the slipping corner and Hooker put the throw seemingly on the money. Instead of running and catching the pass in stride, Keyton tried to leap to make it. The ball sailed over his head.
Tennessee turned it over on downs two plays later and Alabama tied the game three plays later after a 26-yard Jahmyr Gibbs touchdown run and a successful two-point try.
After two missed opportunities, Tennessee went from leading by 11 points to tied.
Have Yourself A Day Jalin Hyatt
While Hooker struggled to connect with Ramel Keyton down the field he had no such problems with Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt found the end zone five times on the afternoon including from 78 yards, 60 yards and 36 yards.
The speedster twice got behind the Alabama defense for big plays and was Tennessee’s most effective pass catcher against the Crimson Tide.
Hyatt finished his day with six catches for 207 yards and five touchdowns becoming the first receiver to even total over 100 yards and three touchdowns against a Nick Saban coached Alabama team.
The junior receiver’s big day proved crucial as Keyton and Bru McCoy both failed to have massive success.
With Alabama’s defense showing resistance in the second half, Hyatt stepped up in a big way multiple times.
A 15 Second Game Winning Drive
Will Reichard’s 49-yard field goal sailed wide right.
Hendon Hooker found Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy on back-to-back plays that set up a 40-yard Chase McGrath field goal.
McGrath knuckled the kick right inside the uprights and Tennessee exorcised some demons.