Stoerner Redeems Himself
With one perfect pass, Arkansas’ Clint Stoerner erased a year-old demon and ended Tennessee’s chances of repeating as national champion.
Stoerner threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Lucas with 3:44 to play Saturday and gave Arkansas a 28-24 victory over the third-ranked Volunteers, who were No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings.
It was Stoerner who fumbled in the final two minutes last year in Knoxville, Tenn., with Arkansas leading Tennessee, 24-22. The Volunteers turned that gift into a 28-24 victory that was vital in their march to the national title.
Saturday’s outcome knocked Tennessee, 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference, out of a chance to defend that championship and put Arkansas (6-3, 3-3) in position for a bowl game.
Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said what happened last season could have been a big part of what happened Saturday.
“Most people don’t have a chance to be in it,” he said, referring to the national championship race. “Emotion plays a big role in this game. It can make you 30% better.”
As the final seconds ticked away, Stoerner took a couple of steps, bent over and put his hands on his knees. His solitude lasted just seconds before he was swarmed by fans--mostly students.
“What happened to us last year just wasn’t right,” said Stoerner, adding his feelings were difficult to describe. “I know I hold a lot of stuff in.”
Stoerner completed 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns with one interception--and no fumbles.