Tennessee won 52-49 on a last-second shot to close out the Alabama win.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws against Alabama Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws against Alabama Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The most anticipated game in Knoxville in a generation ended in the most difficult way possible for the Vols.

Chase McGrath’s 40-yard field goal, which had plagued them for 15 straight games since 2006, expired.

It was a wild back-and-forth game in which the Vols led 28-10 and looked like they were going to suffer a gut-wrenching loss when the Crimson Tide led 49-42 when a fumble returned to the house midway through. The fourth quarter.

UT then tied it, giving Alabama a shot to drive for the win in the closing seconds. But Will Reichard’s 50-yard field goal with 15 seconds left went wide.

That’s when Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker needed to get the team in field goal range.

He finished 21-for-30 passing for 385 yards, five touchdowns and an interception — and all five TD passes were to Jalin Hyatt, who piled up 207 yards through the air.

Hooker’s completions were no more than his two punts of 18 and 27 yards in McGrath’s territory in the final few seconds.

The game was punctuated by a Tennessee touchdown before the Crimson Tide fought back.

On the opening drive of the game, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young — his first game since suffering a shoulder injury in the first half against Arkansas two weeks ago — looked tentative and ineffective, and the Tide were pinned after five plays. Hooker is in, hailed as the best Tennessee quarterback since you know who. Less than two minutes later, the Vols were in the end zone, the key play of the drive being a 20-yard Hooker scramble that had an already juiced Neyland Stadium crowd.

Young looked like his Heisman-winning self on the next drive, leading Alabama 71 yards on a Jahmyr Gibbs dash for the tying touchdown. This was the last highlight for Alabama as Tennessee ate error after error for the Tide.

Alabama had not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter in its last 13 games, the longest in the nation. Tennessee fell three on a flurry of cheers and rushes. Alabama forced Tennessee to punt early in the second quarter, and the Tide immediately gave the ball back on one of the strangest plays of the Nick Saban regime.

Throughout the game, Hooker was a model of efficiency in Alabama’s secondary, finding open receivers and finding receivers beyond the defense. Alabama was fighting an uphill battle, battling both a motivated, quick-strike Tennessee team and its own mistakes, killing drives and penalties that kept the Vols rolling.

With just over 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the Vols still led 28-10. The stadium was boring, the mammoth frenzy and cigarette smoke were dreams dancing in their heads.

But Alabama is still Alabama, even with self-inflicted injuries. At 18, Young showed exactly why he is a Heisman champion and why Alabama’s chances depend on the health of his right shoulder. Alabama’s offensive line did him a few favors, but he made his way through jam after jam. He threw holes the size of mailboxes. He missed the Tennessee run with a balletic spin. He hit fast and often, and even pulled the Storm back less than four minutes into the third quarter.

With their three-possession lead gone, the Vols had a chance to fold. Instead, they got bigger – very, very big. Hooker hit Jalin Hyatt for touchdowns of 60 and 78 yards, and Neyland Stadium shook to its foundations. The only problem for Tennessee: Alabama matches the Vols’ score.

Young was fantastic, going 35-for-52 passing, 455 yards and two touchdowns. But this time it wasn’t enough.

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