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No. 5 Vols Hold Down Tide


It was hardly the welcome back party Alabama had planned on throwing.

Tee Martin ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third Saturday to lead No. 5 Tennessee to a 21-7 victory over No. 10 Alabama in the Volunteers' first game in Tuscaloosa in 69 years.

"It makes no difference where we play the game," linebacker Eric Westmoreland said. "It was just a big win for Tennessee."

The Vols (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) have now won five straight over the Crimson Tide (5-2, 4-1). After the game, Tennessee's players held victory cigars and chanted "We Own Alabama" as they left the field.

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Game summary

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  • "We knew it was going to be a four-quarter physical football game," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I'm really proud of our offense, the defense played great all day long. I feel like we're coming together and peaking at just the right time."

    The defending national champions remained alive in a bid for an appearance in the Bowl Championship Series. It ruined the chances of Alabama, which has also lost to Louisiana Tech this year.

    "I said going in that Tennessee may be the best football team in the country and they didn't do anything today to make me think otherwise," Alabama coach Mike DuBose said. "It was a disappointing loss to a very good football team."

    A crowd of 86,869 the largest to ever watch a football game in Alabama was on hand for Tennessee's return to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    By the time the game was over, only a few thousand Volunteers fans remained, saluting their team by singing "Rocky Top" as the players walked off the field.

    The game was a defensive struggle until Martin led Tennessee on a game-breaking, fourth-quarter drive.

    Trying to run as much time off the clock as possible while protecting a 14-7 lead, Martin marched the Vols 84 yards in 11 plays.

    A personal foul penalty almost spoiled the drive, but Martin's screen pass to Cedrick Wilson went 37 yards to move Tennesee deep into Alabama territory.

    Two plays later, Martin broke open the game with a 21-yard touchdown run that put Tennessee up 21-7 with 8:26 left to play.

    "Tee Martin was the difference," Alabama cornerback Milo Lewis said. "We couldn't contain him. Every time he got backed up against the wall, he made the play."

    Tennessee continued a season-long streak of not allowing a back to rush for 100 yards or score a touchdown. Alabama tailback Shaun Alexander had 98 yards rushing and scored his only touchdown of the day on a 26-yard pass from Andrew Zow.

    Alexander had 148 all-purpose yards and had his streak of six straight 100-yard rushing games snapped. He left the field limping at the end of the game.

    Westmoreland and several other Volunteers struck Heisman poses at him, taunting his efforts to win the award.

    "We came into the game saying he's not going to win the Heisman on us," Westmoreland said. "He's not going to get 100 yards on us, he's not going to make us look bad."

    Alabama was limited in what it could do offensively, especially after Zow was injured.

    Zow sprained his ankle late in the second quarter and didn't start the second half. He finally returned for the Tide's third offensive series but was unable to generate much offense.

    "We never established any rhythm or tempo," DuBose said. "At the end, we were still trying to find something that was working well enough for us to hang our hat on."

    With Alabama's passing game not working, Tennessee was able to key on Alexander. He gained just one yard in the fourth quarter, 40 in the second half.

    The Tide had been beating teams with a ball-control offense, but it was Tennessee which won that category by holding onto the ball for more than 32 minutes.

    "If you look at time of possession, it shows why we didn't win this game," Alabama play-caller Charlie Stubbs said. "If you would have asked me before the game, I would have said we score 20 or 30 points. I thought if Tennessee scores 21, we win easy."

    Martin, who ran for 49 yards and passed for 147, put Tennessee up 14-7 on the Vols' first possession of the second half. He needed just three plays to find David Martin for a 43-yard touchdown only 3:47 into the third quarter.

    "Tee Martin is a warrior," Fulmer said. "He finds a way to get the job done."

    A Tennessee penalty aided Alabama's scoring drive. The Vols were offside on an Alabama punt and the five yards were enough for a first down. The Tide capitalized when Alexander slipped through the line and caught Zow's pass for a 26-yard touchdown.

    Martin tied it with 5:14 to play in the half on a 6-yard keeper.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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