A quarter-by-quarter look at Tennessee’s 38-31 victory over Georgia before 102,455 fans Saturday at Neyland Stadium:
Big play: A Tennessee scoring threat was reversed when Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd recovered a fumble by Vols running back Jalen Herd at the UGA 4-yard line and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown that put Georgia ahead 7-0 with 6:14 left in the quarter. The fumble was forced by linebacker Davin Bellamy.
Turning point: The game got off to a horrific start when, on the first play from scrimmage, the Bulldogs lost star tailback Nick Chubb to a left knee injury.
The takeaway: A cloud was cast over the game by Chubb’s ugly injury.
Score: Georgia 7, Tennessee 3
Big play: On the first play of the second quarter, Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert made a perfect throw and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell made an outstanding catch for a 28-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead. The play completed a five-play, 75-yard drive that began late in the first quarter after a Tennessee field goal.
Turning point: After a Marshall Morgan field goal and a 70-yard Reggie Davis punt return for a touchdown stretched Georgia’s lead to a seemingly commanding 24-3 with 3:27 left in the half, Tennessee reversed the momentum by scoring two touchdowns within 37 seconds. The first, set up by a 46-yard kickoff return by Evan Berry, came on a 39-yard pass on fourth-and-eight from quarterback Joshua Dobbs to wide receiver Josh Smith. Then, on the ensuing kickoff return, Tennessee recovered a Sony Michel fumble at the Georgia 25-yard line, leading to a touchdown five plays later.
The takeaway: Amazing, how fast Georgia’s 21-point lead became a seven-point lead.
Score: Georgia 24, Tennessee 17
Big play: Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd, limited to 22 yards on 11 carries in the first half, broke loose for 20 yards to the Georgia 2-yard line about six minutes into the third quarter. The Vols proceeded to score to tie the game at 24-24.
Turning point: Tennessee took its first lead of the game with 1:26 left in the quarter. A poor punt by Georgia’s Collin Barber gave the Vols excellent field position at its own 44-yard line. A 26-yard keeper by Dobbs was the big play on a drive that ended with a 2-yard pass from Dobbs to Alvin Kamara, who scored his second touchdown of the game.
The takeaway: From late in the second quarter through the third, Tennessee scored 28 unanswered points.
Score: Tennessee 31, Georgia 24
Big play: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lambert threw a deep pass to Davis for a 48-yard touchdown. Once again, the game was tied. The score was Davis’ second of the game. (But he failed to score for a third time later in the quarter, dropping what would have been a long touchdown pass.)
Turning point: Tennessee moved the ball at will against Georgia’s defense on an eight-play, 78-yard drive to regain the lead, 38-31, with 5:48 remaining. Dobbs hit wide-open receivers on 34- and 24-yard passes and ran the ball into the end zone for the final five yards. That proved to be the winning score, although the suspense continued until Tennessee broke up a Lambert pass intended for Mitchell in the end zone on the final play.
The takeaway: It was a costly loss for Georgia and a huge win for Tennessee. Georgia had no answer for Dobbs, who passed for 312 yards and ran for 118.
Score: Tennessee 38, Georgia 31