NASHVILLE – It ain’t over til it’s over. Nobody knows that better than Tennessee in 2010.
Derek Dooley’s first season at Tennessee ended on a sour note Thursday night, a heartbreaking 30-27 double-overtime loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl.
North Carolina’s Casey Barth kicked a 39-yard field goal after one second had been put back on the clock at the end of regulation to forge a 20-20 tie.
Then Barth won it with a 23-yard field goal in the second overtime after North Carolina had ended Tennessee’s possession with an interception.
Tennessee finishes 6-7 after losing a second game in which the opponent was allowed to run an extra play at the end of regulation time. The first was a 16-14 loss at LSU on Oct. 2.
The Vols appeared to have won this game 20-17 when the Tar Heels failed to get off a play at the Tennessee 18 as the clock ran out in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t celebrate this time,” said Dooley. “I’d been there before.”
Officials reviewed the last play and put one second back on the clock, ruling Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates had spiked the ball before time expired.
North Carolina was penalized for having too many men on the field but was still in range for Barth’s field goal that forced overtime.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime – UT’s came on a 20-yard Tyler Bray pass to Luke Stocker.
But then Bray’s third interception of the game killed Tennessee’s possession in the second overtime.
The Tar Heels ripped off a 16-yard run, then won with the field goal, Barth’s third of the game.
“I hurt for that whole football team,” said Dooley. “There’s a bunch of guys in there crying.
“I’m proud of ‘em. They’ve been fighting like heck since November and they put up a good fight against a real good team tonight.”
Bray’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter with 5:16 to play in the fourth quarter put the Vols up 20-17.
However, Daniel Lincoln’s extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving Tennessee with a three-point lead instead of four.
That gave the Tar Heels (8-5) the chance to tie it with a field goal rather than having to score a touchdown to win.
Tennessee’s defense stopped one North Carolina drive on downs with 1:36 to play. The Vols, however, couldn’t make a first down and punted back to the Tar Heels.
Carolina started at its 20 with only 31 seconds to play but got a 43-yard chunk on first down – a 28-yard pass on which UT’s Janzen Jackson was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul.
The Tar Heels attempted three more plays, the third of which was a run to the UT 18. North Carolina couldn’t get organized to run another play and time expired, touching off a Tennessee celebration on the field and in the stands, where a crowd of 69,143 was dominated by orange.