1. 2004: James Wilhoit, 50-yard field goal
Tennessee beats Florida 30-28
Jeff Hall’s field goal is probably the most memorable one when you bring up long-term significance. But this one was just impossible to ignore, as it was the most amazing thing that could have happened to Tennessee football fans.
James Wilhoit went from goat to hero in this game. The Vols were playing host to the Gators and an offense that was taking off under sophomore quarterback Chris Leak. In response, Phillip Fulmer and Randy Sanders had to overcome alternating two freshman quarterbacks and a series of mistakes, including four turnovers.
But the biggest mistake came late. The Vols did overcome all of that to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter with under 4 minutes to go and make it 28-27. Then, James Wilhoit missed the extra point. It was a perfect snap and hold, and there was no blocking issue. Wilhoit just hooked it.
As a result, the Vols had to kickoff down by one point. And they had trouble stopping the Gators’ offense all game, allowing a first down again. But they had just enough time to get the ball back. They also got more time and better field position thanks to a personal foul penalty on Dallas Baker that never should have been called.
Still, Tennessee had to go down the field to try another kick. And with true freshman Erik Ainge at the helm, they could only get to the 33. So Wilhoit came out again with a chance at the ultimate redemption. Make the 50-yarder, and the Vols win thanks to him. Miss it, and they lose because he missed an extra point.
Wilhoit drilled the kick with yards to spare. It may have been good from 60 yards, which is pretty impressive, and he went from the face of blame to the ultimate hero. There was no more clutch kick in history.
Tennessee football would not beat the Florida Gators for another 12 years after that kick. But at the time, it could not have been more clutch. And given everything that led up to it, this is definitely the most memorable field goal in Vols’ history.