Fans Optimistic Until the Very End

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(WVLT) -- It's been three years since the Vols have been to the SEC Championship game and they lost to Auburn.

Fans headed to Atlanta to cheer them on this time, and hoped until the last minute that the Vols could bring home the hardware.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has the details.

It was a game that started out with plenty of optimism.

"It's going to be an awesome game, because it's the SEC and happy birthday SEC and go Vols!" said Pat Hoover.

Taking a lead early and keeping it through the half.

But fans were on the edge with a 7-6 lead.

"So far, it's been a lot of defense, not a whole lot of offense by Tennessee, but it's been good," said Faye Craft.

The Vols kept that lead into the fourth quarter and with just minutes to go... it all changed.

Some felt frustrated.

"It's been a good game, back and forth. Our defense played well but offensively just too many mistakes all night long, all night long. Ainge, the interception," said fan Kevin Woods.

"We have a lot of talent to have lost as many games as we did," said Rob Singleton.

Some felt it was coaching.

"LSU didn't have a starting quarterback. Their safety was out from what I understand," said Ben Tinney.

But still others said there were ten other SEC schools that were not here.

"Everybody kinda counted us for dead five games ago. We pulled it out. We made it here so it's better than nothing," said Kari Branum.

Twelve SEC legends were honored at the game.

One of those was former Tennessee wide receiver standout Willie Gault, who played in the early 80's for the Vols.

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