Recap: Georgia vs. Tennessee
Athens, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Todd Gurley had plenty of rest last week and his fresh legs carried 12th-ranked Georgia to a 35-32 win over Tennessee on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Gurley sat out the final three quarters of last week's 66-0 rout of Troy and was the workhorse on Saturday. The Heisman candidate ran for a career-high 208 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 28 carries and caught four passes for 30 yards for the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 SEC), who beat Tennessee for the fifth straight time.
Hutson Mason threw for 147 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while adding a score on the ground for Georgia. The Bulldogs, who rallied from an early 10-0 hole on Saturday, had lost their SEC opener two weeks ago at South Carolina.
"Both teams showed tremendous poise, both teams showed tremendous fight, both teams got behind and fought back, both teams had good things happen and capitalized, both teams had bad things and found a way to fight back," said Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Saturday was the conference opener for Tennessee (2-2, 0-1), which started its SEC slate with an opponent other than Florida for the first time since 2001.
Justin Worley completed 23-of-35 passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns in defeat, but sat out a majority of the third quarter with an elbow injury. Jalen Hurd ran for 119 yards with a touchdown, but also had a costly fumble in the end zone that gave Georgia its clinching score in an exciting fourth quarter that featured a combined 29 points.
"Obviously, this was very disappointing," said Tennessee coach Butch Jones. "It's about this football team understanding that it's a game of inches. It's a play here, a play there and it's a cumulating factor. They really fought and every individual in this organization believed that we were going to win. I am proud of them, but we have to continue to learn from this and then move on. We are going to be a good football team and we are going to win a lot of football games."
Georgia was clinging to a four-point lead entering the fourth and hadn't moved past the Tennessee 46 on any of its first five possessions of the second half.
Gurley changed that when he finally broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run with 9:31 remaining. He accounted for all but six yards on the 77-yard drive.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Gurley's spike in the end zone pushed the ensuing kickoff back 15 yards and the Vols took advantage with a 39-yard return to start at their own 48.
Worley returned under center for the Vols after Nathan Peterman played most of the third quarter and quickly put Tennessee in the end zone, capping a four- play set with a 31-yard TD strike to Pig Howard. The two-point conversion pass to Daniel Helm made it a 28-25 game with 8:07 left.
The Bulldogs were forced to punt after their next possession, but pinned the Vols at the 1-yard line and extended the lead two plays later when Josh Dawson fell on Hurd's fumble in the end zone.
"It was a bad exchange," said Hurd. "I take full responsibility and that's something that won't happen again."
Worley again led the Vols into the end zone against a soft Georgia defense, throwing a 6-yard TD pass to Marquez North with 2:14 remaining, but the Bulldogs recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Gurley was able to pick up a pair of first downs -- the last on a 4-yard run on 4th-and-3 -- to seal the contest.
"Earlier in the year, I said (Gurley) is at least one of the best players in the country. Now, I'm saying he's the best player in America," added Richt. "I can't imagine anyone being more talented, a guy who loves his team more, and a guy who means more to his team than he does to us."
Georgia finished with 289 yards on the ground and totaled 436 yards of offense for the day. The Vols, who have now lost 21 straight road games against ranked opponents, had 401 yards of offense.
Tennessee scored on each of its first two possessions, as Aaron Medley kicked a 46-yard field goal and Hurd scored on a 1-yard run for a quick 10-0 edge. Georgia, meanwhile, punted after its first two possessions, then scored the next 21 points to move in front.
A 29-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Tennessee 32 for their third offensive series and it took just four plays to find the end zone as Mason scored on a 3-yard run.
Mason was picked off on the next Georgia possession near midfield, but Tennessee failed to pick up a first down and the Bulldogs went 87 yards in 11 plays to take the lead. Gurley broke off a 22-yard run to key the series and finished it with a leap over the pile at the goal line, extending the ball just enough to break the plane for a 14-10 edge with 8:45 left in the half.
The Bulldogs then drove 81 yards on 11 plays for another score with their next series. They didn't face a third down during the march, which Mason finished with a 20-yard scoring pass to Nick Chubb.
Tennessee still had 77 seconds before the break and needed only 59 seconds to pull within 21-17 when Worley found Jason Croom with a 23-yard TD pass.
Mason was intercepted again on Georgia's first series of the third quarter and a series of punts ensued before Tennessee drove across midfield midway through the period with Peterman at quarterback for Worley. A double-reverse gave the Vols a first down at the Georgia 28, but Peterman and Marlin Lane failed to connect on a handoff and the Bulldogs recovered the fumble at their own 23.Game Notes
Gurley has 33 career rushing touchdowns, tying Garrison Hearst for third on
the Bulldogs' all-time list. Gurley also notched his 16th career 100-yard
game. His previous best rushing game was 198 yards, set in this year's season
opener against Clemson ... The Bulldogs matched their longest winning streak
of the series, last winning five in a row against Tennessee from 1909-24 ...
The all-time series is now even at 21-21-2, with Georgia taking an 11-10-1
lead in Athens ... Tennessee hasn't won away from home against a top-25 foe
since a 51-33 triumph in Athens in 2006 ... Former Tennessee quarterback
Peyton Manning, on a bye this week with the Denver Broncos, was on the Vols'