KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Fans went into an absolute frenzy in the fourth quarter of Tennessee's football game against Ole Miss, throwing trash onto the field after a controversial fourth down call.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker threw a pass to tight end Jacob Warren that was ruled short of a fourth down late in the game. Fans didn't like the call and took matters into their own hands.
Trash was thrown in bunches onto the field at Neyland Stadium. The game was halted for several minutes during the pandemonium.
The public announcer asked several times for fans to stop, but it didn't cease. Ole Miss had to clear their sidelines in fear of getting hurt.
The Tennessee band and cheerleaders evacuated not long after.
Vols head coach Josh Heupel condemned the trash throwing first in his opening statement of his postgame press conference.
However, in a press conference on Monday, Heupel praised the energy and atmosphere on Saturday night.
"To see our student body rush down to the bottom part of the section and the remainder of our crowd to be amped up for the final minute of the play, that’s the take-away," Heupel said.
"Our administration has obviously made it clear that isn’t what we want from the volunteer spirit. You know that I feel the same way. It was a very few number. I’ve been in a lot of competitive arenas as a player and as a coach. There was nothing better than I’ve ever been in that happened on Saturday night.”
Former Vols head coach Lane Kiffin, now the coach of the Rebels, said he was hit with a golf ball during the trash throwing. He brought it with him to his postgame press conference.
He also said he got hit with some bottles with brown stuff in them. He didn't know what it was but said he didn't think fans would waste their moonshine on him.
UT Athletics Director Danny White released a statement saying that Saturday night's game was "one of the best live sporting atmospheres he's ever experienced but what transpired in the games final minute was unacceptable."
"I'm disappointed that the [players] relentless performance was overshadowed in the game's closing moments by the actions serval fans whose actions did not represent the Volunteer Spirit of true character of our university," White said.
White ended the statement by apologizing to the Ole Miss football program and congratulating their players on a hard-fought win.
UT's Chancellor Donde Plowman tweeted that she was "astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of [Saturday's] game."
Plowman also commented later:
"We are trying to identify people who threw things onto the field last night in order to hold them accountable. Further, Athletics is working with UTPD and the Division of Student Life to provide recommendations to me and Danny White related to preventing and deterring bad behavior in the stadium, particularly in our student section. I want our fans to be passionate in support of our student-athletes. That cannot mean resorting to bad behavior when things don’t go our way. We should create a safe, fun, and competitive environment in all our sports venues, for both teams, and we need our fans to help us do that."
UT spokesperson Tisha Benton also wrote in a statement:
"UTPD is working to see if people can be identified. If the university is able to identify students, they will go through the student conduct process, and lose the ability to attend future games. Part of an event-management review will include the potential to add additional cameras focused on the student section to make identifying students easier in the future."
As of Tuesday, Oct. 19, UTPD said that there were 18 arrests and 51 ejections at the game on Saturday.
At least two of those arrests are confirmed to be related to the trash-tossing, according to court records. Knox County authorities said they arrested two men during the game -- Brian Buchanan and Logan Spell -- for disorderly conduct.
According to court records, Buchanan was charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication. An officer at the game said they saw him throw several water bottles onto the field. At one point, the officer said several fans in the lower levels who may have been hit by the trash ran to confront him. Officers were able to break up the fight and arrest Buchanan due to him "creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition," saying he smelled of strongly of alcohol and slurred his speech.
Court records said Spell was arrested by a Blount County Sheriff's Office deputy working at the game and charged with disorderly conduct and evading arrest. The deputy said they saw him throwing a water bottle toward the field near the end of the game. The deputy confronted him and tried to interview him in the portal of section I, saying he took off running as they began to question him. The deputy said officers chased him down into the lower concourse where they were able to capture him.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement early Sunday morning in regards to the trash-throwing.
"The Conference has established expectations for behavior and sportsmanship, and the actions of fans at Saturday night's game were unacceptable under any circumstances," the statement said.
"We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt a game. We will review existing Conference policies and the Commissioner's authority to impose penalties and communicate with the leadership at the University of Tennessee — and all of the SEC's member universities — to make sure this situation isn't repeated."
The game resumed after a nearly 20-minute stoppage.
Tennessee got one last drive to win in all the madness but wasn't able to, and Ole Miss won 31-26.