Coming off of a strong showing in the previous week against rival Florida, Tennessee had to rely on the offense to carry a team that was hurting on the defensive side of the ball heading into its first true road trip of the year.
No. 11 Tennessee entered Saturday’s game against No. 25 Georgia with four defensive starters not playing, including captains Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cam Sutton. Those injuries proved not too hurtful to the Vols as Tennessee survived late, 34-31.
Late in the game with the Vols up 28-24, an interception from Malik Foreman gave the offense a chance to come back onto the field and seal the deal in Athens. After a three-and-out, though, Georgia’s offense returned to the field and took what looked to have been the final lead change of the game.
With 10 seconds left in the game, quarterback Jacob Eason connected with Riley Ridley down field on a 47-yard pass to give the Bulldogs the lead. Tennessee had just a handful of seconds to win.
With four seconds left on the clock, it came down to one final play. After taking the snap, quarterback Josh Dobbs looked down field for a Hail Mary. The ball sailed 43-yards to the endzone and into the hands of Jauan Jennings.
The miraculous finish was far from what many expected early in the game.
Tennessee struggled early to keep the offense on the field. The Bulldogs had control of the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the first half — two early scoring drives combed to take 15:35 off the clock. Despite holding possession of the ball nearly twice as long as the Vols, Georgia was not able to get on the board until late in the first quarter with a 14-yard run by Sony Michel, putting the Bulldogs up 7-0.
Despite Nick Chubb playing in the game — after being questionable from an injury suffered last week — it was Michel who lead the way for the Bulldogs. He finished with 91 yards on the ground.
Georgia found every way possible to slow Tennessee in the first half. Late in the second quarter, quarterback Josh Dobbs was forced to scramble away from Georgia defenders before making his way toward the pylon. After a review of the play, Dobbs’ effort was ruled a touchdown, putting the Vols on the board heading into the half down 17-7.
Tennessee was outgained by Georgia by a margin of 392-357 yards, but the Vols had the edge in passing yards. Dobbs ended the day with three touchdowns and 230 yards through the air and a touchdown on the ground, his 13th career game with a passing and rushing touchdown. Eason threw for two touchdowns and 211 yards and had a rushing touchdown as well. Both quarterbacks threw an interception.
The win gives the Vols a 5-0 record on the season, marking Tennessee’s first 5-0 start since 1998.
Edited by Adam Milliken
Featured image by Danielle Whaley