BY JOE SHIVAK
Nashville, TN ( 12/30)………….The Tar Heels of North Caroline beat the University of Tennessee Volunteers in the Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville in double overtime. The controversial finish left the entire UT football squad stunned and a partisan Tennessee crowd very upset. As the scoreboard clock ran out with the Vols leading 20-17 and as both benches began exchanging congratulations, the replay official determined the game was not officially over due to a NC offensive penalty and one second was then added to the clock which allowed the Tar Heels to kick a game tying field goal, sending the game into overtime.
The Tar Heels got the ball first in overtime thanks to winning the coin flip and scored on a quarterback sneak by T.J. Yates. Tyler Bray then scored for UT on a 20 yard pass into the endzone to Luke Stocker. With both extra points good by both teams, the game reamained tied at 27-27. In the second overtime, UT got the ball first but Bray threw an interception giving the ball back to NC. Casey Barth hit on a 23 yard field goal attempt giving the lead and win to the Tar Heels much to the dismay of the Vols who first thought they had won the game at the end of regulation time.
North Carolina scored first on a 58 yard run by tailback Shaun Draughn giving them a 7-0 lead. UT answered with a 29 yard pass reception by Gerald Jones, tying the score 7-7.
Barth added a 28 yard field goal with 10:24 remaining in the second quarter, giving the advantage back to the Tar Heels 10-7.
Bray connected on a 45 yard pass to Da’Rick Rogers, giving the Vols a 14-10 lead. Yates would however find an open Erik Highsmith on a 39 yard pass with only 27 seconds left until the half time break, giving NC a 17-14 half time lead.
There was no scoring by either team in the third quarter as both teams shared the ball equally, but couldn’t produce any points.
Justin Hunter caught an 8 yard pass from Bray with 5:16 left in the game giving UT a 20-17 lead. NC would get the ball back and but when it looked like that time had expired, the replay judge stepped in on a NC offensive penalty and allowed the Tar Heels one more play. Barth made good on a 39 yard field goal , tying the game at 20-20 and sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, NC won the coin toss and scored on a quarterback sneak by Yates and extra point by Barth. Bray found Luke Stocker in the endzone for a 20 yard touchdown and with the extra point conversation, the game was again tied at 27-27.
UT won the coin toss this time, however, Bray would be picked off and the ball was given back to NC. Barth would convert on a 23 yard field goal, giving the Music City Bowl crown to the Tar Heels.
The UT loss was hard to accept, not only for their players and fans, but also for Coach Dooley.
“I’d seen it all in Baton Rouge,” the Vols coach said. UT lost a SEC conference game this season on a controversial call. In the post game news conference, the Vols leader came up short of criticizing the game’s officiating . The officials were supplied by the Big Ten Conference.
Tar Heel Shaun Draughn was awarded the game’s MVP Award. He had 160 total yards on 23 carries. Yates ended up with 234 yards passing, completing 23 of 39 attempts.
NC had 21 first downs compared to 20 for UT. The winners had 385 total yards versus 339 for UT. The Tar Heels had the ball for 43:11 compared to 31:49 for the Vols. Only one of the NC touchdowns was by passing, while all four of the UT touchdowns came from passes by Bray.