Tennessee Beats Indiana 23-22 To Win Taxslayer Bowl In Jacksonville
The almost 60 thousand people packed into TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Florida could feel the momentum change in the 4th quarter of the Taxslayer Bowl on Thursday Night, and the energy packed stadium was on it’s feet. With 6:58 left in the fourth quarter Indiana held a 22-9 lead over Tennessee.
Starting at their own 18-yard line, the Volunteers completed three consecutive 10+ yard passes going 56 yards in 31 seconds.
Driving to Indiana’s 13-yard line, Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw two incomplete passes after starting the drive 5-for-5.
On a third-and-ten, Guarantano targeted but missed receiver Juan Jennings up the middle. However, Indiana defensive back Jamar Johnson was called for defensive holding, giving Tennessee a 1st and goal.
Three plays later freshman linebacker Quavaris Crouch was brought in to serve as a fullback, punching the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown, Tennessee’s first of the game.
And then INSANITY! The Onside kick!
While some may have questioned the decision to go for the onside kick — more than four minutes remaining with three timeouts available in a TaxSlayer Gator Bowl that was full of momentum shifts — Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt had little doubt in his mind. In the past six months, he said his team had practiced the special teams play 500-600 times. And Indiana’s film showed that when the opportunity presented itself, Tennessee could put the play to use.
In a game where Indiana’s defense started strong and the offense could not get going, the special teams proved crucial. When the defense began to fall apart in the fourth quarter, the offense and special teams could not pick up the load.
“Obviously at the end there you’ve got to find a way to finish,” Allen said. “And I thought all three phases had chances to finish and didn’t.”
With all the momentum with Tennessee, Indiana still looked to respond.
Starting from their own 25-yard line, Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey hit teammate Ty Fryfogle with a 39-yard bomb, quickly bringing the ball to Tennessee’s 36-yard line.
Two players later, Ramsey was sacked for a 9-yard loss.
On a third-and-nineteen, Ramsey was forced to scramble out of the pocket, but before being taken down, he made a nifty backward-lateral pitch to running back Sampson James, giving Indiana a nine-yard gain.
With a fourth-and-eight from the Tennessee 34-yard line, Indiana head coach Tom Allen sent out the kicking team so Indiana kicker Logan Justus could attempt a 52-yard field goal.
After Tennessee attempted to ice the kicker, and the officials caused Justus to repeat his routine, his attempt would have the distance but ultimately hooked wide right.
With 0:55 left and no timeouts, Indiana was given one last chance to make a comeback.
Ramsey, again trying to step up when IU needed him to, converted two big passes in a row to tight end Peyton Hendershot and wide receiver Nick Westbrook
With 0:36 left, the Hoosiers quickly had a first-and-ten from the Tennessee 45-yard line.
Needing to push the ball a little further to bring the Hoosiers within field goal range, IU failed to convert another pass as Ramsey threw four straight incompletions, turning the ball over on downs and giving Tennessee the win. 23-22.