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Tennessee finishes job on Alabama

No. 7 Volunteers grind it out and get a touchdown by Foster with 3:28 left to put away the Crimson Tide, 16-13, and stay alive for SEC East title.

October 22, 2006|From the Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Quarterback Erik Ainge's best play may have been a tackle.

That's the kind of game it was for seventh-ranked Tennessee.

Despite the Volunteers' struggles, their defense kept the game close, and one touchdown put them ahead for good in a 16-13 Southeastern Conference win over Alabama on Saturday.

Arian Foster dived into the end zone with 3:28 left to complete Tennessee's rally.

"In the second half, the guts and toughness that this team showed to finish and get a win was just what we needed actually," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I told them there's not anybody on our schedule that we play where the game won't be like this. We'll get the best effort from everybody."

The Third Saturday in October, a border-state rivalry dating to 1901, has become a defensive struggle the last two years.

The Crimson Tide went ahead, 13-6, at the end of the third quarter on Tim Castille's two-yard run, which was the first touchdown scored in this series in two years.

But Alabama couldn't score again.

Alabama frustrated the normally high-scoring Volunteers for the most part, but Tennessee scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for the victory and stayed alive in its chase of Florida for the SEC East title.

Tennessee, which improved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference, came into the game with the best offense in the SEC, averaging 421.5 yards and 35.2 points. The Volunteers had a week off after their 51-33 win at Georgia, but Alabama (5-3, 2-3) frustrated Tennessee and Ainge nearly the entire game.

Ainge completed 28 of 46 passes for 302 yards and three of his passes were intercepted, two by Simeon Castille. Ainge's biggest play came after Castille's second interception, which the Alabama cornerback returned 60 yards to the Tennessee eight-yard line. He was forced out of bounds by Ainge, and Alabama eventually had to settle for Jamie Christensen's 18-yard field goal.

"The greatest thing is when you don't play well and can still win in the end, he helps us win the ballgame," Fulmer said.

Said Ainge: "It feels good to win. Any time you can win the Tennessee-Alabama game, however you get it done, winning is what's important."

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