Oct. 24, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – All-American tailback Bobby Humphrey ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns as second-ranked Alabama ended a four-game series losing streak with 56-28 win over rival Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 18, 1986.
Humphrey’s 217 rushing yards is the sixth-highest total in school history and the most ever against a Tennessee defense.
The toss sweep was the Crimson Tide’s bread-and-butter on this day against the Vols and Alabama’s offensive wall allowed the Tide’s ground-gainers to churn out 457 rushing yards on 58 attempts. Four different players scored rushing touchdowns. In addition to Humphrey, back-up tailback Gene Jelks ran 14 times for 89 yards and one TD, while fullback Bo Wright contributed 13 carries for 83 yards and one TD.
“That was mighty sweet,” a jubilant Alabama head coach Ray Perkins said after the game. “That is the biggest win we have had in a long time. Our team did a great job today.”
Senior quarterback Mike Shula threw only six passes for 78 yards, but two were for touchdowns. He also added 21 rushing yards and one TD.
Tennessee managed only 68 rushing yards against the Tide, but quarterback Jeff Francis and his back-up David Collins completed 26 of 33 passes for 330 yards and three TDs in the loss. Their favorite target was Anthony Miller, who had six catches for 159 yards and one TD. Terence Cleveland added four catches for 31 yards and two scores.
Alabama scored the first three times it touched the football, jumping out to a 21-0 lead with 5:40 left in the first quarter. Wright put the Tide on the board with a 13-yard run with 10:34 left in the first quarter. Van Tiffin’s extra point gave UA a 7-0 lead.
The Crimson Tide scored again on its next possession with a little bit of trickery. Facing a second and inches from the UT 34-yard line Shula faked a handoff to Wright and then fired a 34-yard pass to a wide-open Clay Whitehurst for a two-touchdown lead with 7:30 left in the quarter. Alabama made it 21-0 on a 1-yard sneak by Shula with 5:40 left in the opening period.
“Alabama is playing with a lot of confidence,” Tennessee coach Johnny Majors said afterward, “and they mauled us physically, particularly with their offense.”
Tennessee came back with a pair of touchdowns of its own to quickly close the gap to 21-14 with 11:39 left in the first half. The Vols Keith Davis capped a long drive with a 2-yard run to put the Vols on the board late in the first quarter. The Tennessee used the big play for its next score as quarterback Jeff Francis fired a 70-yard TD pass to A. Miller to pull UT to within 21-14.
The Vols and the massive crowd of nearly 98,000 were back in the game, but not for long. The Tide answered with a quick scoring drive to seize momentum and leave little doubt as to who the winning team would be on this cool, sunny Third Saturday in October.
The Tide offense continued to roll and scored on its next possession, capped by Jelks’ 4-yard TD run with 9:47 to play as UA took a 28-14 lead. The Tide scored on its next possession as well, capped by Humphrey’s 27-yard TD run with four minutes left on the clock and then scored on its final snap of the half when Shula threw a 31-yard pass to Angelo Stafford with 52 seconds left on the clock. Tiffin converted all three extra points and the Tide took a 42-14 lead into the dressing room.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, but the Tide won the game with an impressive first half and a dominant running attack.
Tennessee made it a 42-21 game in the third quarter when Francis threw an 11-yard TD pass to Cleveland. Alabama answered, however, with a 1-yard TD run by Humphrey.
In the fourth quarter, Humphrey scored his third and final touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run with 11:41 left on the clock to up the Tide’s lead to 56-21. The Vols added a late score when Collins threw a 6-yard pass to Cleveland in the final 90 seconds of the game.