Volunteers rally late to top Hoosiers in Gator Bowl classic

Drew McDonald, Sports Editor

Featured image by: Drew McDonald

Trailing 22-9 in the fourth quarter, the Volunteers scored 14 unanswered points in their first bowl win under Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt. 

Drew McDonald
The Volunteers rushed for 238 yards in the win over Indiana.

Playing in front of an attendance of 61,789 people, the first half was moot on the offensive side but both defenses were carrying their weight. 

The Volunteers held Indiana to 69 yards offensively and forced an interception by Shawn Shamburger. 

Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano would drive the team down the field repeatedly but the Hoosiers’ stingy goal line defense prevented any players in orange to score.

Brent Cimaglia made a pair of field goals (32,23) to give the Volunteers an early 6-0 lead. 

The  momentum shifted with less than three minutes left in the half when the Hoosiers bull rushed Guarantano to force an interception by Micah McFadden to flip the field at Tennessee’s 42-yard line. That interception led to a 23-yard chip shot by Logan Justus to cut the deficit to 6-3 at halftime 

Indiana was finding their stride after a rushing score by Peyton Ramsey and a pick-six by Jamar Johnson, resulting in Tennessee benching Guarantano for a drive as the Hoosiers led, 16-6.

The substitution began move the wheels for Tennessee, putting three points on the board to cut the deficit to 16-9. The Volunteers went back to Guarantano, though, for the rest of the game. 

After a 49-yard field goal by Justus, the Hoosiers had some extra padding with a 19-9 lead. Justus struck again early in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard field goal to separate the team in cream and crimson with a 22-9 lead. 

Then, the vibe changed once Tennessee found the end zone for the first time with a one-yard rush by Quavaris Crouch to cut the lead to 22-16.  

The Volunteers called a risky play with an onside kick which Eric Gray recovered for Tennessee. 

It was a busy drive for Gray as he broke free for 16 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 22 and the PAT gave Tennessee a 23-22 lead. 

The Hoosiers were rattled on their next drive and a key missed 52-yard field goal by Justus was a pivotal moment late in the game. 

The Hoosiers had a small window to come back with 18 seconds left but the Volunteers pass rush was too much for Ramsey, cementing the 23-22 Tennessee win.

Gray was awarded the MVP of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl after rushing for 86 yards with a touchdown and the crucial onside kick recovery. 

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