Joshua Dobbs launched a 43-yard throw toward the end zone with Jauan Jennings hauling it in for the game winner as time expired. In the previous drive, Georgia used its own come-from-behind touchdown with Jacob Eason hurling a 47-yarder toward Riley Ridley, giving the Bulldogs a 31-28 advantage with 10 seconds left in the contest.
After holding the lead for a majority of the game, a late fumble by Georgia in its endzone allowed Tennessee to recover and score for its first lead at 28-24 with less than three minutes left in the contest. Starting at the Georgia 4-yard line, Eason was hit and lost the ball with Tennessee’s Corey Vereen recovering for the touchdown.
“The kids fought hard, and I’m proud of the way they played,” said head coach Kirby Smart. “We challenged them this week. We practiced physical and we played physical. Bottom line is we’ve got to do better; we’ve got to do better than them. … We’re a good football team, but we’ve got to improve. We challenged them to play their best game today and a lot of them did that. That’s a response I was proud of. A lot of the kids played hard and physical. Now we’ve got to do it again next week.”
Eason completed 17-of-28 passes for 211 yards, targeting Isaac Nauta with five of those throws for 83 yards. Sony Michel led the rushing corps with 91 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown while Brian Herrien followed with 15 carries for 74 yards.
Defensively, Natrez Patrick totaled a team-best 10 tackles, including five solo stops. Aaron Davis and Maurice Smith followed with eight and seven tackles, respectively, as Smith also tallied a late interception.
Ahead 10-0 early in the second, the advantage increased with two fumbles going the right way for Georgia. What looked to be a touchdown with a pass from Dobbs to Jalen Hurd turned into a touchback for the Bulldogs, as Deandre Baker forced a fumble right ahead of the goal line for Aaron Davis to recover.
On the ensuing Bulldog drive, Georgia worked its way to the Tennessee 2-yard line where Michel took the handoff. However, Vol Colton Jumper knocked the ball out for a trailing Eason to recover for his first career touchdown. Tennessee would score a touchdown in the final two minutes of the half for a 17-7 score.
It was a 24-14 game after three quarters, as Tennessee put up two touchdowns in the third while Georgia added one after Nauta recorded his first career score with a 50-yard pass from Eason. Tennessee closed the gap in the fourth with a six-play, 51-yard scoring drive before the final three minutes of back-and-forth gave way to the Tennessee win.
The Bulldogs hit the road next weekend for a bout at South Carolina. The 7:30 p.m. ET contest will air on SEC Network.