Classic Vols highlights: 1998 Tennessee vs. Syracuse

Classic highlights from Tennessee's game at Syracuse during the 1998 football season.

Tennessee's run to a national championship in 1998 started with a thriller on the road against Donovan McNabb and Syrcacuse.

Jeff Hall gave the Vols a 34-33 victory with a 27-yard field goal in the final moments.

A WBIR story from that game is in the video above.

Here is the Associated Press game story from 1998:

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SYRACUSE, Sept. 5 (AP)— They don't do things the easy way up here at Syracuse. Right out of the gate, Coach Paul Pasqualoni wanted to see just what he had. No messing around. So he invited Tennessee, which is ranked 10th in the country, to the Carrier Dome to test his Orangemen, who are ranked 17th, in the season opener.

If Pasqualoni was looking for resiliency and toughness from his team, he found it. Unfortunately, he had no remedy for fate and an official's flag late in the game. Benefiting from a late defensive pass interference call, Tennessee marched down the field in the last 1 minute 43 seconds, and Jeff Hall kicked a 27-yard field goal that gave the Volunteers a 34-33 victory over Syracuse before a raucous crowd of 49,550.

The kick ended a wild back-and-forth game that saw four lead changes in the fourth quarter. It also spoiled a terrific game for quarterback Donovan McNabb, who helped Syracuse overcome an 11-point third-quarter deficit and score 20 points in the fourth quarter.

McNabb, a Heisman Trophy candidate, completed 21 of 27 passes for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he rushed for a touchdown. The Volunteers got a magnificent performance from the sophomore running back Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 141 yards and 1 touchdown on 20 carries.

Things do not get any easier next week, because the Orangemen travel to Ann Arbor to play the University of Michigan. But they have a great game to build on.

It looked like Syracuse might have a victory after a pass by Tennessee's new quarterback, Tamaurice (Tee) Martin, to receiver Cedrick Wilson on fourth-and-7 at the Vols' 35-yard line fell incomplete. But the officials called pass interference on cornerback Will Allen, who was making his first start. Allen came over the back of Wilson, and two officials waved it an incomplete pass, but the back judge threw his flag. That gave the Vols a fresh set of downs at the Syracuse 46, and after they moved down the field, Hall kicked his game-winner with four seconds left.

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''The right call,'' Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said of the pass interference.

Said George DeLeone, Syracuse's defensive coordinator: ''I'm not going to say it was a bad call. I just question why the guy right on the play calls it an incomplete pass and the guy comes running in from behind with a late flag.''

The call overshadowed a fantastic fourth quarter in which the teams dueled on offense and swapped leads like they were trading baseball cards. Martin, replacing Peyton Manning, completed just 9 of 26 passes for 143 yards, but he threw two for touchdowns and finished with 80 yards rushing on 9 carries.

Syracuse, which trailed by 14-10 at the half, pulled to within 14-13 early in the third quarter, but Tennessee put its offense into gear and scored 10 consecutive points on a 1-yard run by Lewis and a 17-yard field goal by Hall that gave it a 24-13 lead with 3:15 left in the third quarter.

But the Orangemen scored 14 points -- on a 17-yard pass from McNabb to receiver Kevin Johnson and a 7-yard run by McNabb, plus a 2-point conversion run by Ian McIntosh -- in under three minutes to take their first lead, 27-24.

Syracuse pulled within 31-30 with 6:39 to play on a 41-yard field goal by Nate Trout that was set up by a 75-yard kickoff return by McIntosh. Trout added a 19-yard field goal at 2:38 to give the Orangemen a 33-31 lead, setting up the wild finish.

''It think this showed that we can go toe-to-toe with a big time program,'' DeLeone said. ''Now, we can go to Michigan and see what we can do there.''