California Nightmare

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

PASADENA, Calif. (WVLT) -- For three quarters, Tennessee was in control against UCLA but couldn't find a way to close the deal.

In the fourth stanza, the Bruins broke the Vols' hearts and surprised the nation.

Tennessee allowed a late touchdown drive, then missed a 34-yard field goal in overtime to lose 27-24 to UCLA Monday at the Rose Bowl.

To make matters worse, it was a UCLA team without its top two quarterbacks and a number of other key starters, a team considered a vast underdog by almost every pundit.

Jonathan Crompton struggled to find any kind of rhythm, completing only 19 of 41 passes for 189 yards and an interception. UCLA third-string-turned-starter Kevin Craft struggled mightily during the first three quarters, but took control in the fourth, finishing with 259 yards through the air and going 6-for-6 on the game-winning drive, which gave UCLA a 24-21 lead with 22 seconds left.

But the Vols scrambled, with Crompton putting the Vols into field goal range. Lincoln tied the game with time expiring, booting a 47-yard field goal to notch the score at 24 and send the game to overtime.

UCLA made a field goal on its overtime possession, but Lincoln and the Vols were unable to match it, as the sophomore kicker's attempt refused to curve inside the goal post, missing wide left to hand the Vols their second all-time overtime loss.

Arian Foster led the Vols on the ground with 96 yards on 13 carries, and Montario Hardesty complemented the performance with 66 yards of his own and two touchdowns, one of which gave Tennessee a 21-17 lead with 1:54 left.

But Craft and the Bruins responded confidently, marching down the field until a two-yard touchdown pass gave UCLA its first lead since the first quarter.

The Vols (0-1) lost their second-straight season-opener, both of which occurred on the West Coast. UCLA (1-0) gave new head coach Rick Neuheisel a win in his debut at his alma mater.

Tennessee will lick its wounds next Saturday before hosting UAB Sept. 13.

Daniel Lincoln tied the game with time expiring, booting a 47-yard field goal to notch the score at 24 and send the game to overtime.

Lincoln and the Vols drove from their own 43 down to the UCLA 30, after surrendering a touchdown pass to fall behind for the first time since the first quarter.

Tennessee will play defense first in the extra period.

Montario Hardesty ran 20 yards for the go-ahead score with just over two minutes left in the game, putting the Vols ahead 21-17 and capping a clutch 67-yard drive.

The Vols converted two third downs and a fourth down to keep the drive alive.


UCLA running back Raymond Carter ran for a three-yard touchdown to give UCLA a 17-14 lead with 6:51 left in the game, capping an impressive 80-yard drive in which quarterback Kevin Craft strung together his most effective plays of the game.


UCLA kicker Kai Forbath made a 41-yard field goal to get UCLA within 4 points late in the third quarter.

The kick capped a 10-play, 34-yard drive that saw UCLA signal-caller Kevin Craft carry himself with more poise than he did in the first half.

The trifecta was UCLA's first offensive score of the night.

UCLA fans booed quarterback Kevin Craft as he left the field following a four-interception first half against Tennessee.

DeAngelo Willingham, Demetrice Morley, Eric Berry and Nevin McKenzie all tallied first-half picks, with McKenzie returning his interception for a late touchdown to give the Vols a 14-7 lead at halftime in the Rose Bowl.

Jonathan Crompton suffered from first-game cobwebs, throwing for 119 yards and an interception on 11-of-23 passing in the first half. Montario Hardesty scored the Vols' lone offensive touchdown, an 11-yard run. He leads the Vols with 38 yards on six carries.

UCLA's lone score came when the Bruins blocked a Chad Cunningham punt and returned it for a touchdown. It marks the second straight year the Vols surrendered a special-teams touchdown during the first quarter of the season; Cal's DeSean Jackson returned a punt against Tennessee in the first quarter last year.

Daniel Lincoln missed two long field goals in the first half, a 52- and 55-yarder.


Montario Hardesty ran 11 yards for Tennessee's first touchdown of the season, capping an 80-yard drive to tie the game at 7 early in the second quarter.

The touchdown jaunt came a play after Crompton found receiver Josh Briscoe streaking down the sideline for a 41-yard pass play. The six-play drive featured 51 passing yards and 39 on the ground.

UCLA blocked a Chad Cunningham punt and returned it for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead over Tennessee with 1:15 left in the first quarter at the Rose Bowl.

The Vols went three-and-out on the drive. It marks the second straight year the Vols surrendered a special-teams touchdown during the first quarter of the season; Cal's DeSean Jackson returned a punt against Tennessee in the first quarter last year.


Kicker Daniel Lincoln missed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide right, ending the second Tennessee drive of the night and keeping the game scoreless.

Crompton was 4-of-6 for 41 yards on the drive, and Arian Foster ran four times for 10 yards.
DeAngelo Willingham intercepted a Kevin Craft pass and returned it to the Tennessee 15.

Craft was 4-of-6 for 46 yards on the drive, including two first-down tosses.


Jonathan Crompton fumbled a third-down snap, bringing an end to Tennessee's first drive of the season and bringing on Chad Cunningham, who hit a solid punt, giving UCLA the ball at its own 29.

The Vols started the game with a short screen pass to Arian Foster, which netted 9 yards. A second-down pass to Lucas Taylor was overthrown, bringing up the failed third-and-short.

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  • by John Location: Indiana on Sep 4, 2008 at 08:31 PM
    I'm a die hard fan and have been for years. Fulmer needs to look in a mirror and finally put blame well it well deserves to be put. He has no energy and that carries over to the team pysche. The play makers are not getting the ball in their hands and I'm not talking about RB's I'm talking about the talented and fast young men on the bench that can break open a game in a few seconds and steal the other team's mo. Need a quarterback that can read and throw. Time to go Fulmer the game has passed you by.
  • by Bob Location: Lexington on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:04 AM
    It's the coach stupid not the players we got the tallent it wayyy past time for Fulmer and Hamilton both to go since Hamilton doesn't have the guts to fire him. Fire Him NOW and at least we may have a chance to salvage the rest of the season. Maybe it wasn't Randy Sanders after all maybe just maybe it was Fulmer stinking up the place the whole time ya think why didn't we just fire Fulmer and offer the 3 mil to Cutcliff and keep him ??? Is anyone in the atheletic department at UT educated or just idiots???
  • by Buford Location: knoxville on Sep 2, 2008 at 07:05 PM
    Once again, the lonely are left to suffer. So much money spent with so little results. That is the problem with this whole big orange phenomena. An institution of higher learning that seems to be teaching by example that continued failure is OK. Sell the jerseys, ball caps, and window flags. How does it help the university as a whole? The Nashville Tennessean newspaper is doing a series on the money side of the big orange. Sad, sad indeed is the state of the football program. Sadder still if the lack of research at the school of higher learning suffers due to a lack of funds.
  • by John Location: Knoxville on Sep 2, 2008 at 04:33 PM
    I'm going to be on vacation at Hilton Head next week. On my way through Columbia I'm going to stop and see if the Ole' Ball Coach would like another fan. I'm done with UT
  • by richard Location: knoxville on Sep 2, 2008 at 02:31 PM
    i was born in knoxville 32 years ago. my parents are university alimuni. i sold hot dogs at neyland as a kid and now am employeed by the university. i have season tickets and donate as much as i can.but after last season and the first game of this season the university will never get another penny out of me im done with ut football coach fulmer and the whole program can go suck an egg.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2008 at 02:28 PM
    who cares? just a game, and it is soooooo over hyped.
  • by vols Location: crossville on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:19 PM
    I am very suprised how bad our offensive line looked. They didn't give Crompton time to throw. I also can't understand why we did not pound the football on the ground and put the game away. Very unimpressed with the new offense. Seemed like our guys didn't know where to go and what to do. Hope it get's better quick.
  • by CJ Location: Va Beach on Sep 2, 2008 at 08:43 AM
    Looks like the same old lack of coaching and now missing the key element of a good quarterback.Could be a very long 2008 season for the vols. How much longer will Tennessee tolerate this incompetent coaching staff?
  • by Jerry Location: Nashville,Tennessee on Sep 2, 2008 at 08:17 AM
    Fulmer's favorite comment after any loss is "We are a better team then how we played tonight." If that's true, then we need a new coach. Isn't it the coaches job to have the players motivated and ready to play. Oh how could I be so stupid? Fulmer doesn't have any reason to get motivated. He has that $2.4 million contract. Almost every other coach in the SEC has been approached about new job proposals. You won't find anyone knocking down his door trying to hire him. He can point the blame at the other coaches or the players but it's his job to make the final decisions. If he wants to pass blame on someone he should pass some of his salary on as well. Being a long time Vol supporter and donating huge,and I mean huge amounts of money to UT, I'm finished. If Fulmer doesn't care, then why should I? I will give my all tickets and my "extras" away and save my money. Thanks from a former donor and football fan of UT.
  • by dan Location: knoxville on Sep 2, 2008 at 07:43 AM
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