Vols gain 2nd half momentum

Monday, November 1, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Starting the season, Tennessee was ranked 18th in the country and were in danger of falling further with two freshman quarterbacks getting the co-starting nod. But two months later, and after a convincing 43-29 win at South Carolina on Saturday, the Vols are on track to not only finish the regular season with just one loss, but to go to the SEC Championship in Atlanta.

"A tale of two halves" is the best one-liner for this one. The first two stanzas saw a dogfight, leading to an 8-8 halftime score.

The scare of the first half must have been a big topic in the locker room at the half because when the Vols came back out they were ready. And the huge cheers coming out of the Gamecock faithful in the first half must have awakened running back Cedric Houston from his sleep -- because he came out to play in the second half.

On the first play of the half, Houston broke free for 54 yards to the Gamecock 27. Then, on third down, quarterback Erik Ainge found Chris Hannon over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown. The score shifted all the momentum over to the Vols.

"Obviously we are really happy to get the win," said Coach Phillip Fulmer. "It's hard to be really pleased with the last quarter, though. We've had a lot of close wins and a lot of emotional things to go along with that. This team just has tremendous character and toughness and I admire that a lot."

The season is far from over but a big obstacle has been reached. The Vols now take a break from the SEC for a national matchup against Notre Dame. A win would keep an outside shot at a big bowl game as a possibility but a loss doesn't hurt them in the SEC.