We've finally reached the last first-round match up in the Best Plays of 2009 Bracket. The final two plays going up against each other are Denarius Moore's impersonation of a flying squirrel and Austin Johnson's TD against South Carolina.
Denarius Moore's Flying Touchdown Against Georgia
At stake: Hey, this was the Georgia game, and Tennessee had a bunch of highlights on that day, so we're borrowing from Game Over, Georgia again. Here's what was at stake:
Chugging ahead or scrambling for the lifeboats. Tennessee was 2-3 and 0-2 in the SEC with only a closer-than-expected game in Gainesville and the fourth quarter of the Auburn game to cling to for hope. Starting 2-4 and falling to 0-3 in the SEC would embolden the Kiffin (and, by association, Tennessee) critics and add a distinctly orange tint to the crowd.
In-game context: More self-plagiarizing:
For some reason, I remember this game as complete Tennessee dominance almost right out of the gate, perhaps because the Vols had figured out that rolling Jonathan Crompton out of the pocket was The Magic Formula. It wasn't like UT scored on every drive, though, because the game actually started with three punts. On Georgia's second drive, Chris Walker got an interception, and on Tennessee's ensuing possession, it drove 56 yards and scored on a Crompton to Gerald Jones TD. Georgia responded immediately with a 100-yard kickoff return, but . . .
. . . Heh, yeah but:
Impact: That portended the end for the Dawgs. Yeah . . .
. . . they added a field goal to their total, but that would be the end of the offensive points for Georgia. Tennessee added another TD, Georgia added a safety, and the teams went into halftime with UT up 21-12. After the half, Tennessee hit a field goal, and Georgia scored on a pick six. Tennessee was playing well on offense and absolutely dominating on defense, but the score was only 24-19.
But then Hardesty said Game Over, Georgia and Jones hit the Party Starter, and the team mostly coasted (except for the brief moment of Ignorant Bliss) in the fourth quarter to a 45-19 win.
Austin Johnson's Seam TD Against South Carolina
At stake: From Wicked Spin Move:
The tank. Despite playing #1 Florida closer than anyone expected, appearing to have turned the corner with a very satisfying win against Georgia, and nearly beating #2 Alabama, Tennessee had a losing record (3-4) more than halfway through the season. Lose to South Carolina at home, and any positive vibes would likely be lost.
Tennessee caused a stir storming out of the tunnel in black jerseys, and Janzen Jackson caused a fumble on the Gamecocks' third play. The Vols recovered, and two plays later . . .
. . . Jonathan Crompton hit Austin Johnson on a beautifully designed and well-executed seam pass for a TD:
Impact: That was just the beginning of a particularly satisfying mauling of Steve Spurrier's team:
Two plays later, Rico McCoy caused another South Carolina fumble, and the Vols recovered. Four plays after that, Montario Hardesty not only scored, he got himself on Gameday with [the Wicked, Double-Whiff Spin Move].
. . . .
Eleven plays into the game, and UT was up 14-0. Okay, rout on. The Vols caused another fumble early in the second quarter and converted that one into a TD as well to go up 21-0, and they eventually won 31-13 and evened the season record at 4-4.