1998 Champions

Tennessee Vols 1998 National Champions

No. 1 Tennessee wins national title by beating No. 2 Florida State 23-16

Jan. 5, 1999

By Gabe Correa - Smokey's Trail

Dwayne Goodrich
No. 23 Dwayne Goodrich, in the middle is congratulated by his team-mates. No. 99 DeAngelo Lloyd and No. 46 Raynoch Thompson, after Goodrich intercepts a pass in the second quarter from All-America Peter Warrick and scores a TD. (AP Photo)

(SUN DEVIL STADIUM - TEMPE, ARIZONA) 1-4-99 -- -- What a night for college football, for players and fans. It was a game of defense and big plays for the Vols. The fans made it difficult to hear plays called at the line for both quarterbacks and had penalities to result.

Each game the Vols stepped it up to play their opponent and also were the underdog in this one. They played not as an individual but played as a whole team, each one doing their part.

The front offensive line won in the trenches and gave Tee Martin enough time to do his part. The defense played like there was no tomorrow and the hunger showed as they were led by their leader, Al Wilson.

No. 17 Tee Martin
Tennessee's Mercedes Hamilton & Cosey Coleman give Tee Martin enough time to throw a perfect pass to Peerless Price for a 76-yard catch. (AP Photo)

I said it before and I'll say it again, "This team is the best team on both sides of the ball that I have ever seen in playing as a whole." They have the right stuff to make a championship team.

Here's some of the highlights; Tee Martin to Shawn Bryson, TD. Interception by Dwayne Goodrich for a TD. Tim Sewell blocked a kick and Derick Edmonds on special team single handedly tackled on Fla. State 16 yard line.

David Leaverton
Peter Warrick gets a punt from Leaverton and Warrick fakes out a handful of Tennessee defenders and David Leaverton is the last man between him and the goal line for a TD, but Leaverton stops him by a abruising tackle. (AP Photo)

Tee Martin to John Finlayson for a big first down. Defensive Fred White knocks the ball away and Eric Westmorland, Billy Ratliff and Darwin Walker each had a sack on the quarterback. Tee to Jermaine Copeland for a great catch and Shawn Ellis causes a fumble.

How about that punter that people doubted, his name is David Leaverton, his punts pinned the Seminoles on the 9 and 1 in the second half. One of the biggest plays in the game was when David punted the ball to Peter Warrick where he juked and jived his way past a handful of Tennessee defenders and the last man to stop him from scoring was Leaverton who sent Warrick to the turf with a abruising hit.

Peerless Price
Peerless Price poses in the endzone to the fans after a 79-yard TD pass from Martin. (AP Photo)

The defense held Fla. State to a field goal to make it 14-9, the closest the Seminoles would get. Last but not least the MVP awards was given to the defensive player Dwayne Goodrich, for his interception against the All America, WR Peter Warrick, and the offensive player Peerless Price, for two beautiful catches he made with the No.1 defense in the nation on him like glue, ran for a 76 yard catch and a 79 yard - TD.

Billy Ratliff
Florida State QB Marcus Outzen is sacked by Billy Ratliff as the Tennessee defense stiffens up in the fourth quarter. (AP Photo)

The Bowl Championship Series got what they wanted- No. 1 vs No. 2 team and Tennessee came out on Rocky Top, being undefeated 13-0, undisputed, hands down, no question in anybody's mind by the polls.

Tennessee received all 70 first place votes by Associated Press media poll and immediately after the game they were crowned National Champions in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. Tennessee was the first team in school history to be 13-0 and are the second time to be National Champions since 1951.

Report Card

Offense Grade = A+
Most Notable Players: Tee Martin, Travis Henry, Travis Stephens, Shawn Bryson, Peerless Price, Cedrick Wilson, Jeremaine Copeland, Jeff Hall, Chad Clifton, Cosey Coleman, Spencer Riley, Jarvis Reado, Mercedes Hamilton, Reggie Coleman, Eric Parker, Eric Diogu, David Leaverton, John Finlayson and the rest of the offensive line.

Defense Grade = A+
Most Notable Players: Al Wilson, Shaun Ellis, Chris Ramseur, Eric Westmoreland, Raynoch Thomson, Derrick Edmonds, Darwin Walker, Dwayne Goodrich, Fred White, Deon Grant, Billy Ratliff, Corey Terry, Ron Green, Jeff Coleman, Steve Johnson, Gerald Griffin, Andre Lott and the rest of the defensive line.

Tennessee (1)         0 14 0 9 = 23 
Fla. State (2)          0 9  0 7 = 16  FINAL

Scoring Summary

School Play
Tennessee Bryson 4 pass from T Martin 
(Hall kick)
Tennessee Goodrich 54 interception
 return (Hall kick)
Florida St Mccray 1 run (kick failed)
Florida St FG Janikowski 34
Tennessee Price 79 pass from T Martin
 (kick failed)
Tennessee FG Hall 23
Florida St Outzen 7 run (Janikowski kick)

Team Statistics

                  Florida St       Tennessee
First downs           13               16
Rushed-yards        41-108          45-114
Passing yards        145               278
Sacked-yards lost    4-31              1-3
Return yards         120               108
Passes              9-22-2         11-19-2
Punts               9-39.8           5-38.0
Fumbles-lost         4-1              3-2
Penalties-yards    12-110           9-55
Time of possession  28:50           31:10

Individual Statistics

Florida St Minor 15-83, P Warrick 1-11, Mccray
4-9,Coles 2-4, Glenn 1-2, Outzen 18-minus 1. Tennessee Stephens 13-60, Henry 19-28,
T Martin 10-19, Bryson 3-7. Passing Florida St Outzen 9-22-2-145. Tennessee T Martin 11-18-2-278, Henry 0-1-0-0. Receiving Florida St Dugans 6-135, Mccray 1-11, P Warrick 1-7,Minor 1-minus 8. Tennessee Price 4-199, Bryson 3-34, Copeland 1-15, Finlayson 1-14, Henry 1-9, C Wilson 1-7. Record Touchdown Pass: Peerless Price 79-yard touchdown catch from Tee Martin is the longest play in Fiesta Bowl history. Record Attendance 84,470

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