Nov. 8, 2013
By: Brian Rice
Games that define the Maxims -
#18 Tennessee 10 #6 Miami 6, November 8, 2003
The magic of Miami at the Orange Bowl was a mystique that made the Hurricanes seem unbeatable on their home turf in the final two decades of the 20th Century. That momentum carried into the 2000's, assisting UM in earning back-to-back appearances in the BCS National Championship Game.
The magic of the Orange Bowl collided with another piece of college football magic on Nov. 8, 2003, as Tennessee brought its November magic to Miami for a meeting with the Hurricanes.
Miami entered the matchup coming of its first regular-season loss in over two years at Virginia Tech a week earlier. Coming home, the Hurricanes were still in the thick of the national title race, ranked sixth and playing with the comfort of the nation's longest home winning streak, 26 games, that dated back to a loss to Penn State Sept. 18, 1999.
The Hurricanes struck first with a Jon Peattie field goal on their first possession of the game. The Volunteers struggled to move the ball, but played a field position game all day long. After the second UT drive stalled, Dustin Colquitt boomed a 44-yard punt to pin Miami deep. Three plays later, Kevin Simon intercepted a Brock Berlin pass to set up Tennessee deep in Hurricane territory. A steady diet of Jabari Davis runs led to a 41-yard field goal from Jame Wilhoit to tie the game at 3-3.
Miami was hampered by an illegal block call on its next possession and punted to the Vols, giving UT the ball on its own 27. What followed was a drive for the ages.
UT picked up a first down after a Casey Clausen pass to James Banks and a Gerald Riggs run. But a sack of Clausen appeared to have ended the drive. Colquitt came on to punt and was drilled after getting it away. The personal foul penalty gave UT new life.
Clausen would be sacked a play later, but stepped up to find Banks to keep the drive going. A series of runs continued to chew the second quarter clock, including an 11-yarder from Cedric Houston that gave Tennessee first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Davis picked up two yards on first down, but he and Clausen were denied the score on second and third down.
The offense initially headed off the field on fourth down, but Phillip Fulmer allowed the clock to tick down to 0:26 before calling timeout to consider the options. Out of the timeout, Fulmer elected to roll the dice.
The offense had relied primarily on Davis, Houston and Riggs running straight ahead, so Miami stacked the line opposite UT's jumbo set. The call from offensive coordinator Randy Sanders was instead a sweep to Derrick Tinsley, who lined up to the left of the formation. Clausen faked to Davis coming straight ahead and handed off to Tinsley, who swept across the backfield and to the pylon for the only touchdown of the afternoon for either team.
"I thought we could make it and I felt we needed to make a statement that we were down to win the football game," Fulmer said of the call. "We had no fear of Miami and what they've accomplished."
Miami rode a 40-yard run from Jarrett Payton on the opening possession of the second half to a field goal to draw within four at 10-6. From there, it was all field position and defense for the Volunteers. Jason Mitchell forced a Berlin fumble as the final quarter opened. The turnover didn't lead to points, but a Colquitt punt gave the Hurricanes 80 yards to go once again. Miami's ensuing drive went 71 yards, stopped by a Gibril Wilson interception.
UT could only pick up one first down trying to run out the clock with just over four minutes to go. After a Mark Jones sweep came up short of a first down that would have allowed UT to kneel on the remaining plays, Colquitt again came on to punt a his own 27. The junior uncorked a 56-yard bomb that pinned returner Sean Taylor on the far sideline. Taylor looked down to check his feet and let the ball drop through his hands, and Tinsley burst into the frame to pounce on the football and seal the game for the Volunteers.
"We weren't intimidated by them," Tinsley said. "From the beginning of the game we wanted to make a statement."