Dave Hooker audio
ATHENS, Ga. - Aside from the obvious national and conference implications involved in No. 10 Georgia's 26-14 win over Tennessee on Saturday, the Bulldogs were more than happy to gain a major measure of revenge over their longtime foes from the north.
The decisive victories against Georgia the past two seasons were front and center in the minds of veteran Bulldogs, who were outscored 86-47 in ththose games. And the decisive way Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) won Saturday's game made for an air of satisfaction in the home locker room.
"I am so thankful for this win, I can't even tell you," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "I'm sure the Bulldog Nation is pretty excited and I am thankful for them."
The Bulldogs ran off 81 plays to Tennessee's 45 and amassed 458 offensive yards to the Vols' 209.
"You always want to go out and beat everybody, but I think everybody on this team remembers the last time we played (Tennessee)," said senior split end Mohamed Massaquoi, who caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. "Our seniors are a proud group and we wanted to go out with a win against Tennessee."
Georgia reached the Tennessee red zone seven times and scored five times; the only times the Bulldogs weren't able to come away with at least a field goal came when quarterback Matthew Stafford was intercepted, once in the second quarter and once in the third, leading to both of the Vols' touchdowns.
"On that first interception, the defensive end (Robert Ayers) doesn't rush, it's a screen pass and he makes a great play - I'm not upset about that one," said Stafford, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 310 yards, his first 300-yard passing game for Georgia. "On the second one, I'm throwing to a spot and (safety) Eric Berry also makes a great play. He got in our receiver's face and made a play on the ball."
Georgia players also were excited about the victory because it not only exorcised the memory of its last two losses to Tennessee, but it also went a long way toward helping everyone forget a dispiriting 41-30 loss to No. 2 Alabama, which followed a similar script from last year's Tennessee game, when the Vols jumped out to a 28-point lead in the first half.
"Any win will wash the nasty taste of that game out of your mouth," said senior split end Kenneth Harris. "We've been sitting on that (Alabama loss) for two weeks with the open date. Thinking about that game made us want to play that much harder (Saturday)."
"We had to put that Alabama game behind us," said junior cornerback Prince Miller. "You can't dwell on something like that, but we knew we wanted to come out and play a good game right from the beginning."
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will entertain their other Tennessee-based foe, Vanderbilt, which saw its perfect season unravel Saturday with a loss to Mississippi State.
"I hadn't even thought about that," said freshman kicker Brandon Walsh, who accounted for four field goals and two extra points against Tennessee. "It would be really nice to sweep the teams from Tennessee this year."