Originally created 09/06/98

Tennessee stuns Syracuse



SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jeff Hall kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired Saturday to give No. 10 Tennessee a stunning 34-33 victory over No. 17 Syracuse in the first game of the post-Peyton Manning era.

It was Tee Martin, Manning's understudy the past two years, who led the stunning victory. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for one and Syracuse obliged with some crucial penalties to give the game away.

It appeared that Syracuse might escape with a victory after Nate Trout's 19-yard field goal with 2:38 remaining. But Martin, despite completing just 9-of-26 passes for 143 yards, never gave in.

The game turned when cornerback Will Allen was called for interference on Martin's fourth-down incompletion and the Vols let the clock run down before kicking.

It was a disheartening loss for Donovan McNabb, who completed 21-of-27 passes for 298 yards and two TDs and also ran for a score. He did his best to shine in the national spotlight against an elite team, but in the end the inexperienced Syracuse defense and its seven new starters failed when it counted most.

The Orangemen were hit with seven penalties for 105 yards and lost despite holding the ball for more than 37 minutes.

It appeared more than once that Syracuse would win in the waning moments. With Syracuse trailing 24-13 early in the fourth quarter and reeling, McNabb hit Kevin Johnson with a 17-yard scoring pass to pull the Orangemen within 24-19.

That awoke the capacity crowd inside the Carrier Dome from its slumber and Tennessee sputtered, punting after three plays.

After hitting Quinton Spotwood with a 34-yard pass, McNabb scored on a 7-yard run and Kyle McIntosh's 2-yard conversion run gave the Orangemen a 27-24 lead.

The loud crowd was quickly silenced.

After the ensuing kickoff and two incompletions, Martin, who had nine rushes for 80 yards, faced third-and-10 deep in his own zone. He stunned everybody with a 56-yard run up the right side and a personal foul call against Syracuse moved the ball to the 13.

As Tennessee faced third-and-4, Martin calmly hit Peerless Price with a 7-yard scoring pass to give the Vols the lead again at 31-27 with 8:29 left.

After Trout's 41-yard field goal moved Syracuse within a point, Martin fumbled near midfield and Vernon Banks recovered for Syracuse. McNabb then eluded the rush of Al Wilson and hit Darryl Daniel with a 46-yard completion to the Tennessee 11.

Conservative play-calling by the Orangemen forced them to go for a field goal, and Trout kicked a 19-yarder for a 33-31 lead.

Jamal Lewis, who scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, led Tennessee with 141 yards rushing on 20 carries, and Price caught six passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

McIntosh led Syracuse with 15 carries for 60 yards. Rob Konrad finished with 10 carries for 48 yards and caught five passes for 63 yards. Kevin Johnson led the Syracuse receivers with six catches for 92 yards and Quinton Spotwood had five catches for 64 yards.

Martin wasted no time taking control of the Tennessee offense in his first college start. On his first play from scrimmage, he attempted a 30-yard pass to Price. It was off the mark, but it didn't dissuade Vols coach Phillip Fulmer from trying some more, and in the end it paid off.

Stephen Brominski caught a 10-yard touchdown from McNabb in the second quarter to tie the game at 7. But the first crucial penalty against Syracuse set the tone for the game.

The Syracuse defense stopped Martin on a keeper to set up a fourth-and-goal from the Syracuse 10. But a personal foul was called against the Orangemen and Martin scored on a 1-yard run with 53 seconds to play in the half for a 14-7 lead.

McNabb, who was 15-for-17 for 159 yards in the first half, drove Syracuse right back, hitting Johnson with a 24-yard pass to set up Trout's 39-yard field goal as time expired.

It was only the second meeting between the teams. Tennessee beat the Orangemen 18-12 in the 1966 Gator Bowl, holding former Syracuse running stars Floyd Little and Larry Csonka just enough in check.