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November 4, 2006

Game Notes: Ainge starts but can't finish

• Experts' blog
• Scenes from Saturday
• The College Football Wire

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Erik Ainge was able to start, but couldn't finish.

The Southeastern Conference's leading passer, Ainge's status was questionable entering Saturday's showdown with LSU because of a right ankle sprain he sustained in last week's victory over South Carolina.

Earlier this week, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer had indicated he would not decide whether Ainge would start until game time. He thought Ainge was moving well enough in pre-game warm-ups to give him a shot.

Ainge played the first three series and completed just one of six attempts for a mere three yards, although two passes were dropped. On his ninth play, he could not avoid the rush of LSU's Glenn Dorsey and was sacked for a 10-yard loss and hurt his ankle again.

"He got tackled, and he not only reinjured that ankle a bit, but I think he hurt the other one a bit as well," Fulmer said.

However, redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton came in and passed for 183 yards and threw the first two touchdown passes of his collegiate career.

Upon further review

Did he or didn't he?

Not even Tennessee sophomore Demetrice Morley seemed to know for sure.

Morley was the most anxious person among the more than 106,000 in Neyland Stadium Saturday night when officials consulted instant replay to determine whether he touched a bouncing punt that LSU players covered in the end zone.

LSU held a 7-0 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter when Chris Jackson launched a high punt from the Tennessee 49-yard line.

Return man Jonathan Hefney ran away from the football when it hit the ground near the 10-yard line, but the ball appeared to deflect off Morley's right hand as it bounced toward the end zone.

Television cameras showed Morley looking worried as the play was reviewed, but he was relieved when officials announced the original call of a touchback would not be overturned.

That prompted a sideline tirade from LSU coach Les Miles.

"My eyes must be getting bad," Miles said. "There must have been a flash. I saw the ball move when his hand went by. The instant replay guy cannot wear home goggles. He has to make the call."

Bowe grabs touchdown pass, school record

LSU senior receiver Dwayne Bowe set a school record early in the third quarter with his 22nd career touchdown reception.

Bowe scored on a 5-yard slip screen with 9:39 remaining in the quarter that cut the Tennessee lead to 17-14. It was Bowe's eighth touchdown catch of the season.

Previously, Bowe shared the record of 21 career touchdown catches with Michael Clayton.

"That's a great feeling," Bowe said of the record. "I'll try to extend the lead so when I leave here hopefully nobody will be able to break it."

Quarter masters

LSU extended its streak to 10 quarters without allowing a touchdown when it held Tennessee scoreless in the first 15 minutes of play.

The streak ended on Jonathan Crompton's 37-yard touchdown pass to Robert Meachem in the second quarter.

Previously, the most recent touchdown the Tigers surrendered was on Louis Murphy's 35-yard reception in the third quarter of a 23-10 loss to Florida.

Three-for-four

The Volunteers entered the fourth quarter in a familiar position, but the results just weren't the same.

Tennessee entered the fourth quarter trailing for the fourth consecutive game. However, unlike the first three, the Vols were unable to rally for victory.

UT trailed Georgia 27-24 before rallying for a 51-33 victory. They trailed Alabama 13-6 but came back to win 16-13. They were behind South Carolina 17-14 but pulled out a 31-24 victory.

The first indication that the outcome would be different this time was kicker James Wilhoit's 46-yard field-goal attempt sailing wide right on the first play of the quarter.

LSU runs strong

The running game hasn't been a point of strength for LSU, but that changed against Tennessee.

The Tigers were averaging just 158.1 yards rushing per game, but had managed just 90 in a loss to Florida and 42 in a loss to Auburn.

They picked up 231 on the ground against Tennessee, with quarterback JaMarcus Russell's 71 yards leading a list of nine players - including punter Chris Jackson - who carried the football.

"They showed what we thought we would see," Tennessee defensive tackle Turk McBride said. "They knew we would come off the ball, and they tried to do a lot of misdirection things like blocking down and pulling the guard. It all comes down to execution, and at certain points we did it real well. And at times we looked lackadaisical."

Nice gesture

Sportsmanship might be an old-fashioned idea, but give LSU receiver Craig Davis credit for a wonderful gesture.

With LSU fans cheering as he neared the tunnel that leads to the locker rooms, Davis stopped and approached the end zone bleachers.

He took off his gloves and presented them to a young boy, who was decked out in a bright orange Tennessee sweater.

Etc.

LSU had not committed a turnover in its two previous games, but JaMarcus Russell threw three interceptions and DeWayne Bowe lost a fumble. …Russell ran 34 yards for the longest run of the game. The Tigers' next longest run covered 18 yards by punter Chris Jackson on a fake in the fourth quarter. … LSU extended its November winning streak to 12 games. The Tigers have not lost in November since falling to Arkansas 21-20 in 2002. … Russell and Bowe have connected on 19 touchdown passes, which is the second most for an LSU duo. Tommy Hodson and Wendell Davis connected for 21. … Early Doucet's eight receptions were a single-game best for his career. … Tennessee receiver Robert Meachem notched the 100th catch of his career with a 16-yard reception in the second quarter. … Tennessee did not pick up a first down until the second quarter. … Former Tennessee All-American offensive lineman Chip Kell, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, was honored at the game. … Cory Hayes, a 29-year-old Knoxville resident, won $100,000 by kicking a 35-yard field goal at halftime.

For more coverage of LSU, visit TigerBait.com; for more on Tennessee, visit VolQuest.com.



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