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Games That Define The Maxims: No. 1

Aug 31, 2013

1. The Team that Makes the Fewest Mistakes Will Win

Tennessee 30, Florida 28, September 18, 2004

By Brian Rice
UTSports.com

James Wilhoit thought he had made the mistake that decided the game. An extra point that would have tied the 2004 SEC opener against Florida had sailed wide right with 4:17 remaining in a back-and-forth affair at Neyland Stadium.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first and second quarters before an interception from Tennessee freshman Erik Ainge set up a Florida score with 5:29 to go in the first half to give the Gators a 21-14 lead they would carry into the halftime break.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, a mark helped by the Tennessee defense forcing a missed 21-yard field goal from Matt Elam after the Gators had the ball 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

Following Elam's miss, the Vols drove the field, 80 yards in 14 plays, capped by Bret Smith's impressive spinning catch of an Ainge pass for a 23-yard touchdown. Wilhoit's PAT tied the game at 21. The Gators struck again four plays later to reclaim the lead, 28-21, on an 81-yard pass from Chris Leak to Chad Jackson.

Ainge drove the Vols back down the field to answer the score, hitting on passes of 14 yards to Chris Hannon and 32 yards to Tony Brown before connecting with Jayson Swain over the middle for a 13-yard score with 4:17 left. Then, the missed kick.

 

 

"When I missed the extra point for a second I didn't believe it. ...I guess I just assumed it would go in," Wilhoit said of the first missed PAT of his career. "I just had to believe that I would get another opportunity, and when I did I knew I had to make it."

The opportunity came after the game's final mistake, a personal foul penalty on Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker that stopped the clock and moved the Gators back 15 yards ahead of a punt, setting up Ainge and the UT offense at their own 39-yard line. A pair of passes to Hannon later, Wilhoit had his shot at redemption.

The 50-yard field goal might have been good from 60, and Tennessee took control of the SEC East, en route to its fourth appearance in the SEC Championship game.

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