The fourth installment of RTT’s Top Ten Greatest Games of the Past Decade heads to Bristol, Tennessee for the Battle at Bristol vs. Virginia Tech. Check out No. 8: 2016 Outback Bowl vs. Northwestern here.
Tennessee’s second game of the 2016 season was the highly anticipated Battle at Bristol against Virginia Tech. The crowd of 156,990 is the largest to ever see a college football game, and the game did not disappoint Volunteers fans.
Virginia Tech’s offense came out and torched the Volunteer defense in the first quarter. On their second drive, the Hokies took a 7-0 lead on a touchdown pass from Jerod Evans to Sam Rogers.
Less than 2:00 later, following a Tennessee three-and-out, Travon McMillan broke a 69-yard touchdown run to puch the Virginia Tech lead to 14-0. The double-digit deficit was one of four the Vols faced during their five-game winning streak to begin the 2016 season.
Tennessee’s break came on the first play of the second quarter, when a mistimed snap led to a fumble, which the Volunteers recovered inside the Virginia Tech 15-yard line. On the very next play, Josh Dobbs connected with Jauan Jennings in the back of the end zone to cut the Virginia Tech lead in half.
On Tennessee’s next drive, the Volunteers went 90 yards in just four plays, capped with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone to tie the game at 14. After having a two-touchdown lead, the second quarter tie is as close as the Hokies would be for the rest of the game.
Tennessee added an Aaron Medley field goal before Josh Dobbs ran for a five-yard touchdown to close the half with a 24-14 lead for the Volunteers.
It is at this point I should mention the unbelievable experience of this game. The logistics of a crowd of more than 156,000 made much of the day quite long, but once you were inside the stadium, it became an unforgettable night. Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA” with a cavalcade of fireworks during halftime, and as anyone there can attest, it is impossible to feel more American than in that moment.
Tennessee continued its own fireworks on offense in the second half, taking a 31-14 lead on 23-yard touchdown reception from Alvin Kamara.
Virginia Tech scored just three points in the second half before a late garbage time touchdown, while the Vols added rushing touchdowns from Josh Dobbs and John Kelly in the fourth quarter to give Tennessee the 45-24 win.
I had this game No. 4 on my list because it was such an incredible experience and just a really fun day to be a Tennessee fan. As sourly as the 2016 season ended, it was filled with some unforgettable moments — of which it’s pretty safe to say you’ll see more later in this series.