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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Tennessee fans were upset over 4th down call, defensive touchdown lost

Jacob Warren near the first down marker

Tennessee fans went completely overboard with their behavior at the end of Saturday night’s 31-26 loss to Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. But there is some context that helps explain why they were so furious.

For starters, fans were beyond pumped up for the game. They had a 4-2 Vols team taking on a 4-1 Rebels team, so it was a highly-anticipated matchup. The game featured their new coach, Josh Heupel, taking on their old coach, Lane Kiffin, who deserted them after one year.

Vols fans wanted revenge badly, but they did not get it. And they felt robbed.

Tennessee was down 7-0 in the first quarter and felt they had a defensive touchdown wiped off the board. Ole Miss, which went for it on multiple fourth downs in the game, tried to convert a 4th-and-3 at the Vols 45. Matt Corral faked a handoff and held the ball for a trick play, but the Vols were not fooled. Two defenders converged on him and eventually ripped the ball out for a fumble. Tyler Baron picked up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown.

The play was reviewed and the officials determined that Corral’s forward progress was stopped. That took the touchdown off the board and gave the ball to Tennessee at midfield.

Despite the good field position, the Vols were unable to do anything and punted. The fans were upset about losing the defensive score.

Then in the final minute, Tennessee had the ball trailing 31-26. They were facing a 4th-and-24 with long odds to convert. Hendon Hooker completed a pass to Jacob Warren, who got oh-so-close to the first down marker.

The ball was so close and it was hard to tell whether Warren got to the marker. As soon as the officials announced that the Vols were short, the fans protested. Some fans began throwing trash and debris on the field. Lane Kiffin even had a golf ball and water bottle thrown at him (videos here).

None of the calls excuse the behavior of the Vols fans. But the calls help explain why they were so upset.

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