Oct. 1, 2016
ATHENS, Ga. — Jauan Jennings caught a 43-yard touchdown heave from Joshua Dobbs as time expired to lift No. 11/11 Tennessee to a 34-31 comeback victory over No. 25/20 Georgia on Saturday at Sanford Stadium for the Vols’ 11th-straight win.
Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) notched its fourth come-from-behind victory of the season and its first win over Georgia (3-2, 1-2 SEC) in Athens since 2006. UT has notched back-to-back wins over ranked opponents on consecutive Saturdays for the first time since 1995. Last week, UT recovered from a 21-0 deficit to defeat No. 19/16 Florida.
Georgia took the lead with 10 seconds left in the game as Jacob Eason found Riley Ridley on a 47-yard touchdown throw which split the corner and the safety on the left sideline. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the celebration resulted in a 15-yard penalty which would be assessed on the ensuing kickoff.
Evan Berry returned the short kickoff 20 yards and the Vols received five more yards thanks to an offside call on Georgia to put UT at the 43-yard line. Down 31-28 with four seconds left, Dobbs sat in the pocket and launched the ball to the left side of the end zone. Three Vols receivers and six Georgia defenders were in the area, but Jennings came down with the ball to give Tennessee its first 5-0 start to a season since the 1998 National Championship year.
Tennessee trailed 17-0 in the first half and 24-14 entering the fourth quarter. Down 24-21 with under three minutes remaining, Derek Barnett came up with a big play in the Georgia end zone. Barnett sacked Eason in the end zone and forced a fumble that Corey Vereen recovered to give Tennessee its first lead of the game at 28-24.
Dobbs completed 16 of 26 passes for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception and ran for 26 yards and one score on 11 carries.
Jennings finished with 71 yards on three catches and the game-winning score. Jalen Hurd had three catches for 50 yards and one touchdown and also carried the ball 10 time for 42 yards. Alvin Kamara led Tennessee in rushing with 62 yards on 16 carries and added three receptions for 26 yards and one score.
Eason finished 17-of-27 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Sony Michel had 16 carries for 91 yards and Brian Herrien had 74 yards on 15 carries.
Georgia scored the first 10 points of the game as Michel took a draw play up the middle and into the end zone from 14 yards out late in the first quarter. Rodrigo Blankenship added a 27-yard field goal in the second after Georgia recovered an Alvin Kamara fumble.
The Vols were about to respond on their ensuing possession as Jalen Hurd caught a 23-yard pass out of the backfield, but the junior was hit from behind and fumbled the ball just as he was about to cross the goal line. Georgia recovered the ball and capped an 80-yard drive with touchdown after Eason recovered a fumble by Michel in the end zone to put the Bulldogs up 17-0.
The Vols grabbed some momentum just before halftime as Berry put Tennessee in good field position with a 34-yard return on the kickoff. Dobbs hit Josh Smith on a 31-yard strike up the seam on the first play of the drive to move the Vols into Georgia territory. A few plays later, Dobbs finished the drive himself with a four-yard rushing touchdown after scrambling out of a sack and heading to the left pylon. He got there just before a hoard of Georgia defenders pushed him out-of-bounds to bring Tennessee within 17-7 at halftime.
The Vols came out of the halftime break and put together a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Hurd. Dobbs rolled right out of the pocket and found Hurd in stride to bring UT within three, 17-14.
Georgia added another score to reestablish a 10-point margin as Eason found Isaac Nauta over the middle on a 50-yard catch-and-run score.
Tennessee responded with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter as Dobbs hit Kamara in the flat on a crucial third down. Kamara spun out of a tackle and ran the rest of the way for a 16-yard touchdown pass to bring the Vols to within 24-21.
With 3:43 left in the game and Tennessee down 24-21, Trevor Daniel booted a 37-yard punt and Riley Lovingood downed the ball at the 3-yard line to back Georgia up. The resulting UGA possession resulted in Barnett’s forced fumble and Vereen’s recovery in the end zone which sparked the UT comeback.
Georgia tried to answer on the next drive, but the Vols defensive line was in the backfield, forcing Eason to try to throw the ball to Terry Godwin on the left sideline. Malik Foreman undercut Godwin and got his left foot down just inbounds to intercept the ball.
The final 2:10 featured two lead changes and two game-turning touchdown passes down the field.
The Vols next head to College Station, Texas, to play Texas A&M on Oct. 8. The game will feature a 3:30 p.m. broadcast on CBS, marking the third-straight week that Tennessee will be featured in the CBS SEC Game of the Week.