No. 12 Vols fall to No. 3 Dawgs, 44-21
Jeremy Pruitt is now 12-4 at Tennessee when leading at the half
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Jeremy Pruitt’s prospects of beating Georgia for the first time as Tennessee’s head coach took a lucky bounce early Saturday.
Kivon Bennett fell on a fumble that sailed over Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett’s head and into the end zone on the Bulldogs' first drive. Throughout his five-year stint, Kirby Smart is just 8-7 when opposing teams score first.
Senior linebacker Deandre Johnson will miss the rest of the game following a targeting call on Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett. Georgia evened the score two plays later on a Zamir White carry up the middle from a yard out.
Georgia drove 95 yards in just 12 plays to take its first lead of the game with 11:42 to play in the first half. The drive was capped off by this 8-yard rush by quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Henry To’o To’o went over the top to stuff Georgia’s 4th down conversion attempt in their own territory. Tennessee set up on offense at the Georgia 36 yard line and took a shot right away. Jarrett Guarantano connected with a streaking Josh Palmer, who made a mid-air adjustment to find the ball and the end zone to tie the game back up at 14.
After giving up a 43-yard run on the first play of Georgia’s ensuing drive, Tennessee’s defense tightened up on 3rd and 7 from their own 29 yard line to force a 47-yard field goal by Jack Podlesny.
Tennessee responded by putting together a 6-play, 67 yard drive that was aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Georgia’s George Pickens. Jarrett Guarantano responded by lifting a perfect throw to Josh Palmer’s outside shoulder for a 27-yard touchdown to retake the lead, 21-17.
After another solid kickoff return by Georgia, Tennessee’s defense tightened up again - this time at the goal line. The Bulldogs rolled the dice on 4th and goal from the Tennessee 1-yard line, but Quavaris Crouch and Kurott Garland stuffed Zamir White at the line of scrimmage to hold onto a 21-17 lead headed into the locker room.
Jeremy Pruitt is 12-3 at Tennessee when leading at the half. Kirby Smart is 7-8 in his time in Athens when trailing a game at halftime.
Tennessee’s first turnover of the season proved costly early in the third quarter. Jarrett Guarantano fumbled after being sacked, and lost the football deep in Tennessee territory. Georgia’s drive stalled after a chop block that took Elijah Simmons out of the game and Jack Podlesny pulled the Dawgs within a point after a 34-yard field goal, 21-20.
Jarrett Guarantano’s second turnover of the half set Georgia up in Tennessee territory, but the Vols defense was able to force two Stetson Bennett incompletions on the way to another Jack Podlesny field goal to put Georgia ahead again, 23-21.
For the first time since their meeting in 2006, No. 14 Tennessee and No. 3 Georgia square off both as top-15 teams Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on WVLT.
This is the 50th meeting between the two schools, with Georgia holding a slight 24-23-2 advantage. The Vols are seeking their first 3-0 overall start since 2016 and their first 3-0 start in SEC play since 1998.
The Vols carry an eight-game overall winning streak and a six-game SEC win streak into Week 3. That mark is currently the second-longest in the FBS, the longest in the SEC and tied for the longest in the Power 5. It’s UT’s second-longest win streak since the 1998 national championship season (won 11 in a row 2015-16).
Tennessee racked up 232 rushing yards, including a game-high 105 yards from sophomore running back Eric Gray, as the Vols dominated Missouri, 35-12, in their home opener last Saturday. Senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano accounted for three touchdowns, including two on the ground. Junior safety Trevon Flowers delivered a career-high 10 tackles, while senior defensive back Theo Jackson provided a key interception - the second of his career - early in the fourth quarter.
The 23-point margin of victory was UT’s largest over an SEC opponent since Nov. 19, 2016 – a 63-37 win over Missouri. The Vols were a perfect 4-of-4 on fourth down, representing the first time since Sept. 21, 2002 (vs. Florida, 4-of-6), that UT converted four or more fourth downs in a game.
Knoxville native Cade Mays, who joins teammate Trey Smith on the Outland Trophy watch list, enrolled at UT in the spring of 2020. The junior lineman started 18 of the 25 games he played in at Georgia from 2018-19. On Saturday, Mays returns to Athens to take on his former school for the first time.
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