TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WATE) – Nick Saban is now 19-0 against former assistants and the Vols losing streak to the Crimson Tide bumped up to 13 straight, as Tennessee fell to Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa 35-13.
The game’s icing play came on Alabama’s 1-yard line with 7:21 left to play in the fourth quarter. Tennessee trailed the Crimson Tide 28-13 when Jarrett Guarantano attempted a quarterback sneak that instead resulted in an end-zone fumble, Trevon Diggs took the ball 100 yards to the opposite paydirt.
The fact that Tennessee made it a game late was a story itself.
GALLERY: Tennessee-Alabama game photos
The Vols were without starting quarterback Brian Maurer, who went down after a late hit delivered by Crimson Tide middle linebacker Shane Lee in the second quarter.
The Vols would find themselves without another starter before the first 30 minutes came to a close, inside linebacker Daniel Bituli. Bituli was ejected for targeting after a helmet-to-helmet shot on wideout Jerry Jeudy.
Still, it was just an 11-point game at the break.
Alabama got off to a hot start courtesy of a cold start by the Volunteers. Tennessee went three-and-out on their opening drive followed, that combined with a 36-yard punt and 13-yard return set the Crimson Tide up on the Tennessee 35 for their opening possession. Four plays later Najee Harris found the end zone from a yard out to make it a 7-0 game.
The ensuing Tennessee drive would also only last three plays. Maurer’s pass, intended for Jauan Jennings, went off the hands of Jennings and in the hands of Alabama’s Jared Mayden. Tua Tagavailoa and the Alabama offense would again be gifted the advantage of starting inside Tennessee territory.
This time, Tennessee had an answer. Tagavailoa (who’d only been intercepted once this season) was picked off in the endzone by Nigel Warrior. Warrior returned the ball 60 yards to the Alabama 41-yard line. Tennessee capitalized as Maurer went two yards to the endzone on a quarterback sneak.
The tie game would last less than three minutes. Brian Robinson Jr capped off a 65-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown jaunt.
The Vols, who lost Maurer in the ensuing possession, would drive to the Alabama 5-yard line but fall short of the endzone. Opting for a 37-yard Brent Cimaglia field goal to make it a 14-10 game.
Tennessee wouldn’t be closer throughout the remainder of the game.
Both the Crimson Tide and Volunteers utilized three quarterbacks in the contest with Maurer and Tagavailoa ending their nights before sixty minutes of play. Tagavailoa led all signal callers going 11 of 12 for 155 yards before exiting the playing field.
After posting a conference-high 190 rushing yards against Mississippi State a week prior, the Vols posted 114 on the ground against the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Tim Jordan led Tennessee with a season-high 94 yards.
Tennessee will host South Carolina on Oct. 26 at Neyland Stadium at 4 p.m.