Vols fall in OT to Purdue, 48-45

Tennessee closes out Josh Heupel’s first season as head coach with a 7-6 record
Tennessee quarterback passing in Music City Bowl vs. Purdue
Tennessee quarterback passing in Music City Bowl vs. Purdue(Tennessee Athletics)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 2:11 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2021 at 8:08 PM EST
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Music City Bowl Postgame

Vols Head Coach Josh Heupel speaks after a close game against Purdue. Catch up on the action:

Posted by WVLT on Thursday, December 30, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee is bowling for the 54th time in program history. That ranks fifth all-time behind Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma. The Vols are 29-24 in bowl games, and those 29 victories rank seventh nationally.

UT is making its third Music City Bowl appearance and Vol fans are with them cheering on the team as the buses arrived at Nissan Stadium.

The Vols topped No. 24 Nebraska, 38-24, in the 2016 game. UT dropped a 30-27 double overtime contest to North Carolina in the 2010 Music City Bowl.Heupel is the fifth UT coach in the last 70 years to lead the Vols to a bowl berth in his debut season, joining Bill Battle (1970), Phillip Fulmer (1993), Lane Kiffin (2009) and Derek Dooley (2010).


Vols win the coin toss and defer to the 2nd half. On 3rd and 3 at their own 32 Aiden O’Connel’s pass was incomplete, but pass interference was called on Jeremy Banks giving Purdue new life. On first down, O’Connell throws a deep out and appears to be intercepted but Trevon Flowers, but a review showed the pass to be incomplete. Boilermakers would pick up another first down at their own 47. On 2nd down, O’Connell was forced out of the pocket and would scramble for a few yards. Tennessee’s Tyler Baron was banged up on the play, but would get up and leave the field under his own power. Facing a 3rd and 2 at the UT 45 the Boilers would keep it on the ground, but come up short. They’d go for it on 4th and one, but the pass was incomplete giving Tennessee great field position.

Vols take over for their first possession at their own 45 yard line. Jabari Small picks up 8 on first down. 2nd down deep pass to Javonta Peyton is incomplete. Hooker picks up the first with his legs. Then came the big play, Hokker to Cedric Tillman from 41 yards out. PAT is good and the Vols take a 7-0 lead. Tillman now 28 yards shy of a 1000 yard receiving season.

Purdue would start its next possession at its own 25 yard line. And the Boilermakers would strike quickly. O’Connell rolls to his right and throws deep hitting a wide open Broc Thompson. PAT ties the game at 7 with 10:15 remaining in the 1st quarter.

On its next possession, Tennessee would go three and out opting not to go for it on 4th and inches.

Purdue takes over at its 19 after a Vols punt. On third and 2 quarterback Aiden O’Connel is sacked by UT’s Caleb Tremblay forcing a Boilermakers punt. Vols take over at their own 37.

Boilrmakers march right back down the field, but O’Connell’s pass to the end zone is intercepted by Tennessee’s Kamal Hadden. Vols take over at their own 20. Hooker connects on a couple big pass plays first to Jaylen Wright and then Javonta Payton. Then on 3rd and 9 at the 11 Purdue is called for pass interference giving Tennessee a first and goal at the 2 yard line. And from their it’s number 2, Jabari Small carrying it in right up the middle. Point after makes it 21-7 Vols with 3:29 still remaining in the first quarter.

Purdue would move down the field and on 3rd and 2 pick up the first on an O’Connell pass to Jackson Anthrop to end the first quarter.


Boilermakers start the quarter at the Tennessee 15 yard line. On 3rd and 2 at the 7 O’Connell’s pass into the end zone is overthrown. Boilermakers connect on a 24 yard field goal cutting the Tennessee lead to 21-10 early in the 2nd quarter.

Vols start their next posession at their own 23. After a completion to Cedric Tillman, Purdue is called for uneseccary roughness moving the ball to the Boilermakers 45. An unecessary roughness penalty on Tennessee would move the ball back eventually forcing a Vols punt.

Purdue starts its next drive at its own 13. O’Connell connects ona big pass play to Anthrop to move into Tennessee territory. Boilermakers faced a 3rd and 10 at the UT 18, O’Connell’s pass was overthrown and almost intercepted by Tennessee. Mitchell Fineran would come in and connect on his second FG of the game, this one from 35 yards out. Vols now lead 21-13 in the 2nd.

On 3rd and 4 at the 44 Purdue’s pass is broken up by UT’s Jaylen McCollough forcing a Boilermakers punt.

Vols take over on their own 17, On 3rd and 3 at the 24 Hooker throws deep down the near sideline, but nobody is home. A quick three and out puts the Vols defense right back out on the field with 3:36 remaining in the half.

Boilermakers take over at their 36, and pick up a quick first down on a pass at the sideline. Later in the drive O’Connell connects with with TJ Sheffield from nearby Thompson’s STation, Tennessee. The 38 yard pass puts the ball at the UT 2 yard line. Vols defense stiffens and on 3rd and goal at the 2, O’Connell is sacked by Tennessee’s Jeremy Banks forcing a third Fineran FG attempt. Once again the kick is good making the score 21-16 Vols with just under a minute to play in the half.

Attendance today is 69, 489, a new Music City Bowl record.

A short kick and nice return nets UT good field position at its own 38. On third down, Hendon Hooker is hit right before he throws, fumbles the ball and is recovered by Purdue. Call on the field is reviewed and upheld.

The last thing the Vols needed was to have Purdue march right back down the field and that’s exactly what happened. The Boilermakers cap off their initial drive of the 2nd half with a pass from Aiden O’Connell to TJ Sheffield on third and goal at the 10. The play was reviewed and upheld. Sheffield, who was also hurt on the play beat R-Soph. Kamal Hadden on the play. Boilers retake the lead at 30-28 with 9:04 remaining in the 3rd quarter at Nissan Stadium.

A teriffic Velus Jones kickoff return out to the 48 yard line was nullified by a penalty. Vols start with poor field position and Hendon Hooker fumble, recoved by UT, pushes them back even further. Vols are forced to punt, but the defense steps up and forces a Purdue punt.

Tennessee takes over, but once again backed up to its own 5 yard line. That poor field position would hurt the Vols once again. A Jabari Small run left UT with a 3rd and 6. Hooker’s pass to TE Princeton Fant is knocked loose and the Vols are forced to punt once again.

Boilermakers take over once again with very good field position. Howver on 2nd and 10 at the 49, O’Connell is intercepted by Byron Young. A huge play for the defense and this Tennessee team as a whole.

Boilermakers would drive back down into UT territory on their next possession but an overthrown pass by O’Connell would float right into the arms of Trevon Flowers as the Vols come up with their 3rd interception of the game. The Vols begin to move themselves and on the legs of Hendon Hooker move to their 4 yard line where it’s 2nd and 4 at the end of the 3rd quarter.


Vols push the pile on 3rd and 2 as Small picks up the first. A first down pass to Javonta Payton is reviewed and ruled that the ball hit the ground before it was caught pushing the down to 2nd and 10 at the Purdue 49. Then on 3rd and 4 the Vols move the chains on a 3rd and 4 pass from Hooker to Cedric Tillman. Vols get four yards on third and 5 and go for it on 4th and 1 only to be denied. Ball goes over on downs to Purdue with 12:03 left in the game.

Purdue starts it’s first drive of the 4th quarter at its own 25 yard line. On 3rd and 7 at the 29, Tennessee brings the house but can’t get to O’Connell who who completes the first down pass to Broc Thompson. The Vol dee would stand tall after that and force another punt after a near interception on 3rd down by Jeremy Banks.

Vols take over at their own 8 yard line with a long field to go. The Vols would pick up a couple first downs by running the football. Then with 3rd and 9 at their own 44 the Vols are stopped and forced to punt.

Purdue would make them pay. Consecutive pass interference calls on Warren Burrell would hurt and then the big play. O’Connell hits TE Payne Durham in stride he spins near the sideline and after poor tackling goes all the way in for the score. The play covers 62 yard. Purdue goes for the two point conversion and gets it to take a 38-31 lead.

The Vols would answer, driving down the field and on 4th and goal at the 13, Hooker connects on a slant pattern to Cedric Tillman. It’s his third touchdown of the game and a Tennessee record for receiving TD’s in a Bowl game. The crucial PAT was good and we’re tied at 38.

Boilermakers outslug UT 48-45 in OT

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