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Vols storm back to defeat Kentucky in SEC title-game tuneup

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  • Vols storm back to defeat Kentucky in SEC title-game tuneup

    Nov. 27, 2004 wire reports
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was -- in a word -- relieved.

    With an appearance in the Southeastern Conference title game already wrapped up, the No. 15 Volunteers rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing loss and beat Kentucky 37-31 on Saturday.

    And while a field goal would have given Tennessee the lead in the final minute, the Vols didn't want to risk it after Kentucky had already blocked two kicks.

    Gerald Riggs finally put Tennessee ahead to stay with a 12-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining.

    "Really relieved," Fulmer said. "I love each and every one of these guys, but they are making an old man out of me and the rest of the staff."

    Kentucky (2-9, 1-7) lost its 20th straight game to Tennessee, though the Vols' defense had another lackluster effort in its regular-season finale.

    On a cold rainy day, the Vols (9-2, 7-1) found themselves down 31-22 in the fourth quarter to one of the worst offenses in the country.


    A trick play helped start the comeback. Rick Clausen tossed the ball to C.J. Fayton, who completed a 53-yard pass to Robert Meachem at the Kentucky 12. Tony Brown scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Clausen two plays later.

    Clausen was intercepted on Tennessee's next possession, but Kentucky could not take advantage and had to punt.

    The Vols got the ball back at their 40 with about 4 minutes left and trailing 31-29.

    They marched into field-goal range, but with Kentucky's Lonnell Dewalt having blocked an extra-point kick and a field goal earlier in the game, Tennessee passed up a chance to let the kicker try to win it.

    Dewalt finished the season with seven blocked kicks, a school record.

    Riggs ran straight through the line on third down for the touchdown, and Cedric Houston added another run for the 2-point conversion.

    Tennessee's Corey Campbell intercepted Shane Boyd's pass with 6 seconds left to seal the win.

    "We were able to overcome some of our mistakes in the first half," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "In the fourth quarter, the offense went into hibernation."

    The Vols said they believed they would win.

    "It seems like we've been down a lot in the fourth this season so it wasn't too bad. We were confident we could do what we needed to win," Tennessee offensive guard Rob Smith said.

    Clausen, playing for injured freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, was 26-of-41 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston had 127 yards rushing on 24 carries, and Meachem had five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.

    The Vols rolled up 606 yards of total offense in Clausen's second start.

    Boyd threw two touchdowns to freshman Jacob Tamme and finished 20-of-32 for 218 yards.

    The Vols were looking to build some momentum going into their rematch with No. 3 Auburn for the SEC title, and clearly the defense will have to play better next week.

    The defense also struggled last week in a 38-33 win at Vanderbilt.

    "Coming in, I thought we might be strong on defense and weak on offense, but it was just the opposite," Fulmer said. "I just don't think we played as passionately as we should have."

    Kentucky was playing without its offensive coordinator Ron Hudson, who resigned on Monday with his team ranked last in the SEC in total offense.

    But the Wildcats controlled most of the game even with their leading receiver, Glenn Holt, injuring his hamstring in the game.

    Kentucky led after the first quarter for the first time this season.

    The Wildcats started to pull away after Ricky Abren returned an interception 6 yards for a touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter to make it 17-7.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Clausen's three TDs lead Tennessee's rout of Texas A&M
    by DJRamFan
    Jan. 1, 2005 wire reports
    DALLAS -- The stands were filled with Texas A&M fans going bonkers when their beloved Aggies were on defense. They were so loud Tennessee quarterback Rick Clausen went up and down the line screaming out signals to make sure everyone heard him.

    At least, that's what it was like early, before the Volunteers gave the fans no reason to hurt their throats.

    Looking nothing like the third-stringer he was most of the season, Clausen led No. 15 Tennessee to five touchdowns in just 2 quarters and the defense had its way with the 22nd-ranked Aggies in a 38-7 victory in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

    Winning was nice enough for the Vols after losing their last two bowl games and four of the last five. Winning big was especially sweet after losing those last two by a total of 40 points and never leading in either game.

    "Probably our best effort of the year," coach Phillip Fulmer called it.

    It also was the most lopsided victory in the school's 45-game bowl history. The Volunteers (10-3) came within 5:13 of their first bowl shutout since the last time they played the Aggies, way back in the 1957 Gator Bowl.

    The rout began when C.J. Fayton turned a short pass into a 57-yard touchdown on the game's seventh play. Tennessee surprised A&M by continuing to pass and the Vols defense stunned the Aggies (7-5) by producing five turnovers. A&M had just eight all season.


    "Go figure," coach Dennis Franchione said.

    The Aggies were looking for a great ending to their big turnaround from last season's 4-8. Instead, they got a reminder of last season - their worst performance since a 77-0 loss to Oklahoma. It also was their fifth straight loss in the Cotton Bowl.

    "We just had too many mistakes," said quarterback Reggie McNeal, who was 23-of-38 for 241 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception, just his fourth of the season, and was involved in two fumbles - a lost option pitch and a drop when hit by three defenders, one of whom ripped off McNeal's helmet.

    Aggressive defense was part of Tennessee's game plan. The Vols were aiming for four turnovers and to be stingier than their last three games, when they allowed between 31 and 38 points each time.

    "We were talking the whole bowl preparation about a comeback, playing better, not giving up plays that would end up being the difference," Fulmer said. "I'm really proud of that."

    He should be pretty proud of outsmarting A&M on offense, too.

    The Aggies expected the Vols to pound away with running backs Gerald Riggs Jr. and Cedric Houston. Instead, they turned to Clausen's arm and added to the confusion by using him in a variety of formations.
    -01-01-2005, 03:54 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Irish too much for Navy, easily extend NCAA-record streak
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004 wire reports
    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There is no secret to Notre Dame's 41-game winning streak against Navy.

    The Fighting Irish are bigger, stronger and faster -- and they showed it on Saturday.

    Ryan Grant ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and Notre Dame had little trouble extending its NCAA-record winning streak against the Midshipmen with a 27-9 victory.

    Navy (5-1) came in unbeaten with hopes of finally ending four decades of futility against the Irish. Adding to the optimism for the Midshipmen were their performances against Notre Dame the past two seasons. The Irish needed late-game heroics in both to extend the streak.

    "We remember how close this game has been the last two years," Notre Dame linebacker Mike Goolsby. "That was the thing coach (Greg) Mattison tried to get across to us this week. It doesn't have to be close."

    The defensive line coach was right. Grant and Notre Dame's dominant lines wrapped this one up early for the Irish (5-2).

    Notre Dame needed two possessions to take a 14-0 lead.


    "It kind of set the tone for the game and gave us confidence," said quarterback Brady Quinn, who was 11-for-20 for 130 yards.

    The Irish went into halftime up 17-0, having allowed Navy's triple-option attack to break midfield at Giants Stadium just once.

    The Midshipmen got their ground game going on the first drive of the second half, marching 81 yards without throwing a pass. But Navy stalled and settled for a field goal to make it 17-3.

    Kyle Eckel finished with 102 yards on 22 rushes for Navy, but playing from behind just doesn't suit the Midshipmen. Navy completed 3 of 6 passes for 44 yards.

    "We'd have to have played mentally perfect to have a chance to win this game, and obviously we didn't do that," said quarterback Aaron Polanco, who was held to 19 yards on 24 carries.

    Navy came in averaging 267 yards rushing, but led by defensive tackles Greg Pauly and Derek Landri, Notre Dame had six sacks and limited the Midshipmen to 216 yards rushing.

    "We heard it all week," Goolsby said. "It's all about discipline."

    Added Pauly, "Everyone just took their assignment and stuck to them."

    Navy's only touchdown came on a late 5-yard run by Frank Divis.

    Notre Dame showed off its version of power football on its first drive of the second half. The Irish went 73 yards on 13 plays, throwing just two short passes. Grant, from nearby Nyack, N.Y., accounted for 64 yards on the drive -- 55 on nine rushes. He skipped into the end zone from a yard out to make it 24-3 late in the third quarter.

    "That score kind of put them on their heels....
    -10-16-2004, 03:52 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Greene becomes Georgia's winningest QB in rout of Vanderbilt
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004 wire reports
    ATHENS, Ga. -- Except for one series, David Greene played about as well as he can for Georgia.

    It helps to have a pair of 100-yard runners in the backfield -- and Vanderbilt on the opposite side of the line.

    Greene passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, leading the 12th-ranked Bulldogs to a 33-3 rout of lowly Vanderbilt on Saturday.

    Greene found plenty of room to pass when the Commodores began crowding the line, trying without much success to stop Georgia's freshmen running backs.

    Danny Ware rushed for 127 yards and Thomas Brown had 122, including a touchdown. They were the first pair of Bulldog runners to go over 100 yards in the same game since Garrison Hearst and Mack Strong in 1992.

    "That's big," Ware said. "We want to do that every game."

    The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from their first loss of the season, a 19-14 setback to Tennessee.


    Greene became just the fifth player in SEC history to pass for 10,000 yards in his career. He also picked up his 37th victory, breaking a tie with College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Rauch as the winningest quarterback in Georgia history.

    "Wins are the thing," said Greene, just two wins away from Peyton Manning's NCAA record. "For a quarterback, that's what you're always going to be judged by. Wins mean more to me than anything else."

    The left-hander has struggled much of the season, coming into the game as only the ninth-rated quarterback in the SEC. But Greene had the right opponent to pad his numbers.

    Vanderbilt (1-5, 1-3) is only one defeat from its 22nd straight losing season. Georgia piled up a season-high 527 yards, holding the Commodores to just 187.

    Greene played seven possessions in the game, leading the Bulldogs to four touchdowns and a field goal, while another drive reached Vandy territory before stalling.

    The only time Greene looked out of sync was when he threw three straight incompletions late in the second quarter.

    "I felt like I played great except for one drive," he said.

    Greene completed 14 of 21 for 191 yards, including a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.

    Georgia scored on its first two possessions and led 16-3 at halftime. The Bulldogs followed the same script in the second half.

    Greene finished off an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 22-yard pass to Leonard Pope, the first touchdown of the sophomore's career and a 23-3 lead.

    On Georgia's next possession, Greene faced fourth-and-2 at the Vandy 38. He faked a handoff and lofted a perfect pass to Reggie Brown, who beat cornerback Bill Alford in...
    -10-16-2004, 03:42 PM
  • DJRamFan
    James Madison earns first Division I-AA championship
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 17, 2004 wire reports
    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- James Madison ran its way to its first Division I-AA national championship.

    Maurice Fenner had 164 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Justin Rascati also ran for two scores in a 31-21 victory over Montana on Friday night. The Dukes rolled up 314 yards rushing en route to their first national title.

    "It was two great quarterbacks. The difference was we could run it, and they couldn't," James Madison coach Mickey Matthews said.

    Rascati ran for 57 yards on 11 carries, and Fenner had 29 carries.

    The Dukes (13-2) were the first team to reach the title game by winning all three playoff games on the road, advancing past the second round for the first time.

    The two-time champion Grizzlies (12-3), playing in their fifth title game and led by Colorado transfer quarterback Craig Ochs, took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter, but couldn't stop James Madison's rushing attack.

    Trailing by four points, James Madison responded with a 72-yard drive -- all on the ground. Fenner capped the drive by pounding in for a score from the 1, putting the Dukes ahead for good.


    Montana missed a 31-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter that would have tied the game, and the Dukes all but sealed the title on their next drive.

    Rascati scored on a 6-yard run one down after getting hit in the head, a play that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty on Montana's Kerry Mullan that gave James Madison a first down.

    The Grizzlies had a chance to rally, but James Madison's Clint Kent intercepted Ochs' pass with 6:17 remaining, and Montana was unable to move the ball the rest of the game.

    "It's a dream come true," said Rascati, who transferred from Louisville after last season. "It's something I've always dreamed of throwing in the backyard."

    James Madison's fans threw yellow streamers and some even jumped down from the stands onto the field to celebrate with the team as the final seconds ticked off the clock. All stayed on the field during a short fireworks show while security officials took down the goal posts.

    Montana appeared to be in control in the first quarter after holding James Madison to 2 total yards on offense (minus-4 rushing, and 6 passing). The Grizzlies' score on their opening drive was the only touchdown James Madison allowed in the first quarter this season.

    But the Dukes eventually got rolling on the ground.

    "I think they decided they were going to do it," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "They played a great game and deserved to win."

    Montana was trying to win the school's third title, a championship that would have provided a perfect ending...
    -12-18-2004, 02:50 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Gophers grind out Music City victory over Alabama
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 31, 2004 wire reports
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marion Barber III heard all about how Alabama stopped Auburn's vaunted running backs.

    Barber and teammate Laurence Maroney simply thought they were better.

    Barber ran for 187 yards and a touchdown and Maroney added 105 yards to lead Minnesota to a 20-16 victory over Alabama in the Music City Bowl on Friday.

    Barber and Maroney, the only teammates in NCAA history to each rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, were the only runners to go for more than 100 yards in a game this season against the Crimson Tide, who entered with the nation's second-ranked defense.

    "They're a duo, and they're both going to come at you," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said, grinning. "They must be pretty good, I guess."

    Alabama held Auburn to just 74 yards rushing in the Crimson Tide's final game, but Barber wasn't impressed.

    "I never looked at that," the soft-spoken Barber said. "We just came in more prepared."


    The Golden Gophers (7-5) ran for 276 yards to overcome three turnovers -- including two by Barber -- on their first three drives. Still, they nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter.

    Rhys Lloyd, who made field goals from 27 and 24 yards, missed a 24-yard attempt with 5:34 left that would have sealed the victory. Mason admitted he was worried since Minnesota lost games late against Michigan and Iowa.

    "When we missed the field goal that would have put us in pretty good shape, I said, 'Here we go again,'" Mason said. "I know if I'm thinking that, so are our kids, but we fought through."

    On Minnesota's next possession, it was pinned deep in its own end and elected to take a safety to make it 20-16 rather than attempt a punt.

    The decision nearly backfired.

    Alabama's Tyrone Prothro returned the free kick to the Minnesota 48, and four completions by Spencer Pennington got the Crimson Tide to the 15. But Pennington overthrew a Prothro in the end zone on third down and couldn't convert a fourth-and-5 with 1:14 to left, ending the game.

    "That's all you can ask for, a chance to win the game," Pennington said. "Prothro was open, and I threw it a little high."

    Alabama (6-6), making an NCAA-record 52nd bowl appearance, was forced to throw throughout the game with leading rusher Kenneth Darby limited because of an abdominal strain. The Crimson Tide had minus-2 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 21.

    Pennington, who finished 22-of-36 for 243 yards and a touchdown, frequently tried to let receivers make plays using short passes.

    "We didn't execute the way we should have," he said. "We felt...
    -12-31-2004, 03:57 PM