This was one for the ages.
Just when you thought Tennessee was running out of luck, they made plays that put them back in the game.
The No. 9 Vols almost overcame seven turnovers, multiple injuries and penalties.
Still, they believed.
Why not? They ran off five straight games to start the season with more magic than mo-jo.
They almost pulled another rabbit out of the helmet. But after two overtime periods, it was over. Texas A&M 45-38. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was a thorn in the Aggies rear ends.
But he saw his last pass end in the hands of the enemy. The home team won.
They didn’t need any magic.
“We just kept playing,’’ said Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin. “What a crowd. What a game.’’
As has been their team personality, the Vols played from behind. The Aggies drew first blood after Dobbs fumbled and the Aggies picked it up and took it into the end zone.
7-0. One touchdown had no chance of winning this game. Both squads’ rosters were filled with playmakers.
So when Aggie defensive back Armani Watts captured a poorly thrown ball by Dobbs on the first Vols series in the second overtime, it was over.
Texas A&M 45, Tennessee 38.
The streak had ended. Alabama is next on the menu.
Win or lose, Butch’s Boys will never back down. They keep scratching and clawing. Even when they saw teammate Danny O’brien getting strapped down on a stretcher and placed ever so carefully on a vehicle, they rallied around each other.
They kept coming at the Aggies, a team that wasn’t about to wave a white flag of surrender.
It was the Vols first visit to the renovated college football cauldron that many teams feel the wrath of one of the most rabid fan bases in the game.
The Vols kept patching their wounded. Running back Jalen Hurd didn’t even make the trip, but Alvin Kamara more than filled the void. They had three of their best defensive starters missing and never blinked. They believed in Butch. When he froze Aggie place-kicker Daniel Le Camero with back-to-back time outs only seconds before he would try to win the game with a 36-yard field goal in the first overtime, they sensed something good was going to happen. When Le Camero snap-hooked the attempt, the Vols knew they had dodged a bullet.
It was not to be. Texas A&M took the ball first on the second overtime and went ahead when senior quarterback Trevor Knight scored on a keeper around left end, the Vols didn’t blink.
They knew if they didn’t answer, the game would end.
Dobbs’ dropped back on first down, threw a pass that Watts caught.
It was over.
A team that last season would build early leads, only to get passed late in the games, had become a team that started at a snail’s pace and then rallied to win coming down the stretch.
The Vols are still in the hunt to win the East. After Alabama, their schedule will find them favored in their final five games.
This is a team that keeps it fans squirming in their seats until the final play.
You never know what you’ll get with them. You will get all they can give you.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.