As Chase McGrath’s game-winning, last second 40-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, the sea of orange packed into the stands streamed out onto the field in celebration.
Orange fireworks went off above the Neyland Stadium, and the 101,915-capacity crowd, some on the pitch and some still in the stands, celebrated No.6 Tennessee snapping a 15-game losing streak against No.3 Alabama with a 52-49 victory secured in the last second.
The Tennessee Volunteers scored the most points ever in the 105-game series and some fans in their celebrations even took down the goalposts.
“This is college football at its absolute best,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said, according to ESPN. “We were the best team on the field tonight. That’s all we can control.”
Not since 2006 had the Vols defeated a Top 10 team or Alabama Crimson Tide, their fiercest rivals, and their victory confirmed their credentials as championship contenders.
Alabama had its own chance to extend the winning streak but kicker Will Reichard missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with just 15 seconds left.
In the following play, Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker drove his team 45 yards in 13 seconds to set up the winning kick.
Hooker completed 21 of 30 passes for 386 yards during the game and threw for a joint career-best five touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Jalin Hyatt was on the receiving end, and recorded five touchdowns, tying the school record for total touchdowns in a single game which was originally set in 1929.
“[This game] just happened,” Hyatt said, per ESPN. “It’s not just me. It was just the looks we got.”
Tennessee had built up a 28-10 lead midway through the second quarter but slipped behind Alabama by the end of the third thanks to two touchdowns from Jahmyr Gibbs and one from Ja’Corey Brooks.
Hyatt’s fourth touchdown restored the Vols’ lead at the beginning of the fourth before Cameron Latu and Dallas Turner’s scores for the Tide turned the game on its head.
Hyatt’s fifth score tied it at 49 with 3:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, before McGrath’s winning kick.
“We didn’t answer the bell today,” Tide coach Nick Saban, who had never lost to the Vols in his 15-year spell at Alabama, said per ESPN. “We did too many things to help [Tennessee].”