Sept. 28, 2013
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As South Alabama drove toward the end zone late in the game Saturday afternoon, the ending should have been foreseeable all along. After all, the territory is where Brian Randolph is at his finest.
So after a big lead became an uncomfortable one in the game's final minutes, Randolph did what he does best: Intercept a pass in the end zone.
The Jaguars took over the ball with 7:53 to go in the game and marched down the field looking for a touchdown that would have given them the opportunity to tie the game with an extra point. With the ball on the 6-yard line and a second-and-goal situation, Corey Miller dragged down USA quarterback Ross Metheny for an eight-yard loss. A completed pass on third down got six of the yards back to set up fourth-and-goal.
On the deciding play, Corey Vereen burst through the line to force Metheny to make a quick decision. Metheny surveyed the field, but didn't see Randolph playing in perfect position.
"I saw they were in a bunch set and had a screen set up," Randolph said of the final USA play. "I saw they had two guys trying to get behind me, so I just tried to back up and get into a window and he threw it right to me."
Randolph slid right in front of the intended receiver and snatched the pass before going directly into a kneel in the checkerboard, sealing the game for the Volunteers. The interception was the third of Randolph's season and career, all three of them coming in the end zone.
The game-clinching pick was one of three on the afternoon for Tennessee, who looked to be off to an easy win before South Alabama seized the momentum and nearly the game in the second half.
"We had the momentum," said Randolph. "But we saw it swing and we showed resiliency and came back to stop them in the end."
Randolph was asked in the postgame press conference if he was surprised that UT was able to rally to pull itself back together after the Jaguars put on the pressure.
"Our defense knows how to deal with adversity," he said. "We kept our head up and kept snapping and clearing to focus on that next play."