A road trip to Columbia was set to be business as usual for the 6-0 Tennessee football team. The Gamecocks would spend the entire year at the bottom of the SEC, 1-7 at the time the two teams faced each other, finishing the year winless in conference. After a quarter of play, attention turned not to the final score, but to the arm of Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin.
"It felt good today," said Martin after the win.
You could call that an understatement.
Over the course of three quarters, Martin completed 23 consecutive passes, 24 if you include the final throw of the Alabama game. Martin set the NCAA record for most consecutive completions, as well as the most consecutive completions in a single-game. The final stat line?
23/24, 315 yards and four touchdowns.
"I really didn't know how good we were doing as a team until at halftime and I said '18/18?' I was like 'oh man! We didn't drop any of the passes,' so uh, that was pretty good," Martin said.
He tossed a TD to Jermaine Copeland and Cedrick Wilson and hit Peerless Price twice for a score. Martin would need most of the day to get to the record. With about 2:55 left in the third quarter, Price found a soft spot in the Gamecock zone and Martin hit him between the numbers, officially setting the NCAA record. The very next play, Martin threw to a curling David Martin to his left. The ball was a little high and the wide receiver couldn't come down with it, ending the streak. The Vols finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Phillip Crosby. Add the extra point, and the UT took a 42-0 lead over the Gamecocks with an entire quarter left to play, but Martin's day was done. He jogged over to the sideline, hugging head coach Phillip Fulmer.
"I found out about the record when Coach Cutcliffe told me I wasn't going back in the fourth quarter," said Martin after the game.
But what about his receiver with the same name? Did Tee hold any resentment against David for not reeling in that final pass?
"Nah, God bless David Martin, he let me know I'm not perfect."
But Tennessee was; 7-0 with eyes on a bigger prize.