By Scott Latta,
UA Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- Tennessee scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to overcome the Alabama's 6-3 halftime lead as the Crimson Tide (5-3, 2-3) fell to the Volunteers (6-1, 2-1) 16-13 Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
Alabama took a three point lead to the half on the leg of junior kicker Jamie Christensen. The Tide got on the board first on a 24-yard Christensen field goal with 2:38 left in the first quarter. After a Tennessee field goal tied the game 3-3, Christensen connected on his second kick of the half, an 18-yarder. The kick was set up by a 60-yard interception return by junior Simeon Castille, his second of the half and fifth of the year.
The Alabama defense forced three Erik Ainge interceptions in the first two quarters, giving the Tide 13 picks on the season. Senior Juwan Simpson led the Alabama defense with 11 tackles. Castille had 10 to go with his two interceptions and two pass breakups.
"We were just kind of playing our normal defense," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We mixed in blitz, mixed in our defensive personnel, but our guys do a good job of covering zone and covering man, and they play hard."
After trading punts to start the second half, a 39-yard punt return by Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney set the Vols up with their second possession of the third quarter at the Alabama 34-yard line, but the Tide defense held, forcing a 47-yard James Wilhoit field goal to tie the game 6-6.
After the Alabama defense held Tennessee on 4th-and-1 at the Alabama 30-yard line, junior DJ Hall reeled in a pass from sophomore John Parker Wilson around the helmet of Tennessee defender Dorian Davis in triple coverage. The play stood under review, and Alabama declined the pass interference penalty against the Volunteers for a gain of 40 yards, the longest of the day for the Tide offense, to the Tennessee 12-yard line.
A five-yard run from senior Ken Darby gave the Tide 1st-and-goal at the Tennessee two-yard line, and one play later, senior Tim Castille got into the end zone to give Alabama the 13-6 lead with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
The touchdown was the first in the last 133 minutes of the Alabama/Tennessee series.
"We're pretty upset," Wilson said. "It was another close one for us. We had our chances to win again, like we have in other games we've lost, but we didn't make plays when we had to."
Hall had seven catches for 102 yards in the game to extend his Alabama record of consecutive games with 100 receiving yards to five. Wilson was 13-of-29 for 158 yards, the first game this season he did not throw for 200 passing yards.
Both teams struggled to run the ball, with Alabama gaining 53 yards on 30 attempts and Tennessee running for 57 yards on 21 attempts.
The Vols scored 10 fourth quarter points, including a 26-yard Wilhoit field goal to pull within four points. A one-yard touchdown run from Arian FosterÂ--Tennessee's first touchdown against Alabama since the 2004 Alabama-Tennessee gameÂ-- gave the Vols a 16-13 lead with just over three minutes left in the game.
"It's tough. It's a tough one to swallow for our football team, especially our seniors," Shula said. "But we've got to be able to hang together and move on and just execute a little better with the game on the line."
Alabama plays at home for the next two weeks, playing Florida-International next Saturday, Oct. 28, for homecoming with a 2:07 kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised by Crimson Tide Sports Marketing on pay per view.