Vol defenders Corey Miller and Brian Randolph talk Georgia loss
Tennessee tiptoed to the brink of a monumental upset but let it slip away Saturday.
Georgia’s Marshall Morgan hit a 42-yard field goal in overtime to salvage a 34-31 win before a crowd of 102,455 at Neyland Stadium and a CBS national audience.
The Vols (3-3, 0-2 SEC) appeared in good shape to end an 18-game streak of losing to ranked teams when Rajion Neal scored on a 7-yard run with 1:54 left to put UT on top 31-24.
But No. 6 Georgia (4-1, 3-1 SEC) marched for the tying score when Aaron Murray hit Rantavious Wooten for a 2-yard TD pass with only 5 seconds left in regulation.
Tennessee had a heartbreaking moment in the first overtime when Pig Howard at first was ruled to have scored a touchdown, diving to the pylon at the right corner of the end zone.
But a review showed Howard had lost control of the ball before it crossed the goal line. The ball bounced out of the side of the end zone, essentially a fumble and a touchback.
With its turn on offense, Georgia set up Morgan, who had earlier connected on a 56-yard field goal, the longest in Neyland Stadium history.
Tennessee trailed 17-3 at the half, but forced a tie at 24-24 when Neal scored from the 1 with 11:15 to play, capping a 75-yard drive that included a 43-yard Neal run on fourth-and-1.
Then Neal gave its first lead but the Vols couldn’t hold on to it.
Tennessee rallied in dramatic fashion in the third quarter to tie the game, 17-17.
First, Justin Worley connected with Marquez North on a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-10.
After an exhange of punts, Georgia was backed up inside its 20 when Jalen Reeves-Maybin blocked Colin Barber’s punt. Devaun Swafford chased down the ball and scored with a 15-yard return.
It didn’t stay tied long.
Murray broke a 57-yard run to the UT 3 and Brendan Douglas scored from there. One play into the fourth quarter, Georgia led 24-17.
The two critical plays of the first half that widened the UT deficit involved a Tennessee penalty and a Georgia fourth-down conversion.
Georgia’s opening possession ended with Morgan kicking the longest field-goal in Neyland Stadium history, 56 yards.
It was soon 10-0 after a 12-play Georgia drive culminated with Murray flipping a 1-yard TD pass to Chris Conley.
Tennessee finally began to mount an answer early in the second quarter. Creative uses of Pig Howard moved the Vols into Georgia territory and after a couple of runs by Neal, it was second-and-goal at the Georgia 3.
An incomplete pass made it third-and-goal, then Tiny Richardson was flagged for a false start, moving the ball back to the 8.
From there, Worley fired incomplete and the Vols had to settle for a 26-yard Michael Palardy field goal.
Georgia went right back on the march. Tennessee thought it had a stop at fourth-and-4 at the UT 39.
Rather than a pooch punt or another 56-yard field-goal try, the Bulldogs went for it. Murray hit Conley for a 24-yard completion and a first down at the UT 15, deflating the crowd.
Murray got the score on a 4-yard pass to Wooten.
Instead of a 10-7 or possibly 13-7 spread, Georgia led 17-3 and that’s where it stayed at the half.