The team that had been plagued by fourth quarter collapses all season long, the team that seemingly couldn't get out of its own way in three heart-breaking losses to start the year, finally found it within themselves to hold off a ranked team in the waning minutes of a game.
The Tennessee Volunteers triumphed over the Georgia Bulldogs 38-31 in a sold-out Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon, ending a 5-game losing streak to the Bulldogs in the process. The Vols were down by as much as 24-3 in the first half and looked out of sorts on offense. Tennessee had a fumble at the 3 yard-line returned 96-yards for a touchdown against them, and Georgia was having its way with the Vols, especially after a 70-yard punt return made it 24-3.
But then the Vols started to chip away. Tennessee took the ensuing possession after the punt return touchdown 53 yards and scored on a 2-yard pass to Alvin Kamara. Then Georgia fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Tennessee recovered. Just five plays later, and the Vols had cut it to 24-17 at the half.
Tennessee continued their upward climb in the second half and eventually took the lead on another 2-yard touchdown toss to Kamara. But in true Vol fashion, Georgia scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 48-yard bomb from Grayson Lambert to Reggie Davis, and the game was tied once more.
But this time, the Vols wouldn't collapse. Tennessee regained the lead on a drive orchestrated by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, as he ran it in from 5 yards out to give Tennessee a 38-31 lead. The Bulldogs nearly tied it up twice, once on a deep ball to a wide open Davis that he dropped, and again on the very last play of the game that saw both Georgia and Tennessee almost come down with the ball.
Dobbs finished with a career-high 312 passing yards and three scores, adding another 118 on the ground and two scores there as well. It was the second time Dobbs has thrown for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in a game, and the last time was in another big Tennessee victory in 2014 against South Carolina.
Georgia played basically the entire game without star running back Nick Chubb, as he sustained a nasty injury on the first play from scrimmage for the Bulldogs. Sony Michel filled in admirable for the Bulldogs, running the ball 22 times for 145 yards. Grayson Lambert made some good throws but also made plenty of gaffes in a game where he completed 15-of-32 passes for 279 yards and two scores.
The win against the Bulldogs may have just saved Tennessee's season and takes some pressure off Butch Jones. Tennessee finally showed the resolve they lacked in the three losses to start the season, and a couple unlucky breaks and big plays didn't break the Vols this time. The win is especially big considering the Vols are approaching a bye week ahead of a game against Alabama.
This win was a long time coming. Go celebrate, Vol fans.