Nov. 28, 2013
Each Thursday, Brian Rice will take a look back at the Lowe's #DefiningMoments. This week, a trip to Lexington would decide if Tennessee was headed for the SEC Championship Game, a long day ended with an orange sunset and another trip to Atlanta.
By Brian Rice
Tennessee headed to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats on Thanksgiving weekend needing to what they had each of the last 22 years, defeat UK, to seal up the SEC Eastern Division title and the program's fifth appearance in the SEC Championship Game.
The Volunteers looked like they would be in complete control from the start. Erik Ainge hit Arian Foster on a short pass on the first play of the game that Foster took up field, shedding tackles along the way for a 65-yard touchdown.
UT extended the lead later in the first as Ainge hit passes to Brad Cottam and Lucas Taylor for 59 and 18 yards, respectively, Taylor's for a touchdown for a 14-0 lead. A missed Daniel Lincoln field goal gave Kentucky a short field as Andre' Woodson engineered a TD drive for the Wildcats to pull within 14-7. Lincoln hit a 45-yarder on the next UT drive to push the lead back to 10 at 17-7.
The teams traded interceptions in the final 2:00 of the first half, with Woodson's giving UT the ball at the UK 17 thanks to a 14-yard return by Xavier Mitchell. Two plays later, Ainge found Quintin Hancock for a 15-yard TD and a 24-7 Tennessee lead at the half.
UK scored on the opening drive of the second half, but UT responded with another touchdown off a UK turnover as Ainge found Jeff Cottam over the middle for a 2-yard TD to push the lead to 31 14. But Kentucky came right back with a Woodson-lead TD drive, then came up with another in the fourth quarter to pull within three. The Vols pinned the Wildcats at their own 9-yard line with 3:32 to go, but Woodson led his team down the field for a game-tying field goal as time expired.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, but the Wildcats looked in control in the second, as Sam Maxwell intercepted an Ainge pass at the goal line.
Three straight Kentucky runs set up Lones Seiber to win the game and end the streak, but his 35-yard attempt was blocked by Dan Williams.
The teams traded TDs again in the third overtime, but each team missed on a 2-point try. A personal foul on the Volunteers following the conversion attempt mean UT would start the 4th OT on the 40-yard line. No problem for Ainge, who found Hancock on the first play to put the Volunteers in front. Ainge then hit Austin Rogers for the conversion over the middle.
Derrick Locke scored for the Wildcats, but Antonio Reynolds stuffed Woodson's run on the 2-point conversion attempt to end the game and send the Vols to Atlanta and extend the longest-active win streak over an opponent to 23 games.