3:30 PM ET, October 25, 2003
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry still packs quite a punch.
'Bama just wouldn't get out of the way for the Volunteers.
Tennessee (5-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) became the first visitor to win three straight times at Bryant-Denny Stadium and snapped a two-game losing streak.
"This was a Tennessee-Alabama classic game," Vols linebacker Robert Peace said. "You can tell both teams wanted it and that we were both exhausted."
Corey Larkins gained 20 yards on three carries to start the fifth OT and Alabama had an offsides penalty. On third down from the 2, Clausen rolled right and dove toward the goal line.
He was stopped just short but did get the first down and scored on the next play. Clausen then hit a leaping James Banks for the 2-point conversion, with the NCAA mandating that teams go for two following touchdowns after the first two OTs.
The Tide (3-6, 1-4) has lost five of its last six games, twice in overtime. Alabama couldn't get a first down in the final OT, with Williams stopped on both second-and-1 and third-and-1 from the 16.
"Just when you think you've seen it all and been through a lot of ups and downs, all of a sudden there's a game like this," Alabama coach Mike Shula said.
"We all know what Alabama-Tennessee is about, we'd all like to be celebrating in there but we're not, and it hurts. But I truly believe this team will be better because of it."
The marathon victory kept the Vols in contention in the SEC East after getting routed 41-14 against Georgia at home two weeks ago in one of the program's biggest embarrassments in years.
"I'm always confident," Clausen said. "No. 1, you've got to believe in yourself. No. 2, you've got to believe in your teammates."
That includes Banks, who had a few drops in the game but more than made up for them.
"I told him, 'You're going to make a play to win the game, I just don't know when it's going to be,'" said Clausen, who was 23-of-43 for 283 yards and a season-high four touchdowns.
A game Alabama led 6-3 at halftime turned wild in the second half, then became a marathon with two proud programs trying to salvage disappointing seasons.
Alabama offensive tackle Wesley Britt broke his left leg in the game's first quarter, and was carted off on a stretcher.
After the game coach Mike Shula didn't offer further details.
"Your heart goes out to him," Shula said.
Britt, a junior preseason All-SEC pick, has started 34 games in his Tide career. He is on the watch list for the Lombardi Award given to the nation's top collegiate lineman.
Tennessee hadn't lost three straight games since 1992, the year before Phillip Fulmer was officially elevated to head coach. Clausen made sure that stretch was extended.
Clausen, who sent the game into overtime with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Troy Fleming with 1:52 left, threw three more in the extra periods. He hit Derrick Tinsley on a 6-yarder and found Banks for TDs of 6 and 25 yards before the game-winner.
Clausen set up the score in the third OT with a 29-yard pass to C.J. Fayton on fourth-and-19.
"There's not a tougher-minded quarterback in the country than Casey Clausen, mentally and physically," Fulmer said. "There's no question if there's time left on the clock, he's going to have a chance to win."
Both teams had to settle for field goals in the fourth OT.
Alabama got 12-yard touchdown runs from Williams and Tim Castille and Croyle's 6-yard pass to Fulgham in the extra sessions.
Banks caught seven passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 25-yard run after lining up at quarterback for the first time this season.
Williams carried 40 times for 166 yards for the Tide while Croyle was 21-of-38 for 215 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Alabama took a 20-13 lead with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter on Ray Hudson's 2-yard run. Tennessee then went three-and-out but the Tide also couldn't get a first down to run off the final three minutes as Williams was stopped a couple of inches short.
Clausen then took over with 1:52 left and no timeouts, hitting six of eight passes for 81 yards. He faked the handoff to Cedric Houston and found a wide-open Troy Fleming in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown with 25 seconds left.
Clausen had completed just two second-half passes before that drive.
Speedy freshman Tyrone Prothro then scooped up the short kickoff and raced 38 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. A 15-yard facemask penalty set up Alabama at Tennessee's 31 with 17 seconds left. Williams' run pushed it 4 yards closer but Brian Bostick's 44-yard attempt fell well short.
Tennessee lost three fumbles in the first quarter as both teams struggled to generate any offense in the first half.
"I just don't know why we wait so long to get it done," Fulmer said.