Tennessee limped into Athens on Saturday coming off of a 47-21 loss to Florida in search of an identity and their first conference win since 2016. While the Vols were able to find somewhat of an identity in a game that was closer than many had predicted by the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) marched on to a 38-12 win to drop Tennessee to 0-2 in SEC play.
If you needed a play to sum up what kind of day it was going to be for Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC), you’d have to look no further than Georgia’s first drive. Facing a third down and long, Tennessee’s pass rushed forced a Jake Fromm fumble. The ball was picked up by tight end Issac Nauta and taken 40-yards for a touchdown.
Despite Tennessee’s offense stalling out throughout the first quarter, the Vols managed to get out of the quarter down only 7-0, and while Georgia marched down field on a 86-yard drive inside the 10, the Tennessee pass rush again forced Fromm to fumble, holding the Bulldogs to a field goal, giving them a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Most of the second quarter was marked my missed opportunities by both teams. While Georgia missed on a pair of would-be touchdowns because of a dropped pass and an overthrow, Fromm put the ball on the ground twice and one of his passes sailed high and off of the hands of Nigel Warrior. In both instances, the Vols came up without the ball. Missing out on those opportunities would come back to haunt them just before halftime.
Georgia used 12-play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run from D’andre Swift to extend their lead to 17-0. The drive killed over five minutes of clock to give the Bulldogs all of the momentum going into the half.
On their opening drive of the second half, Georgia continued their end-of-the-first half momentum with a 75-yard drive that ended in a Justin Fields rushing touchdown to make it 24-0.
Tennessee’s offense finally seemed to have had new life breathed into them on the following drive, until they faced a 4th and 5. Guarantano’s pass to Jennings fell incomplete, but a pass interference call on Georgia gave Tennessee a fresh set of downs. Two plays later, Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 37-yard touchdown throw and catch for their first score of the game.
After holding Georgia to a punt, Tennessee put together a 57-yard scoring drive that was finished off with Guarantano’s second touchdown pass of the game-a 35-yard pass to Chandler to make it a 24-12 game.
Georgia answered with a clock-killing drive to put the game away for good with less than five minutes left in regulation in the form of a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes before Swift carried Tennessee defenders into the endzone. Fields would cap off the game with his second rushing touchdown with 2:41 left to pull ahead, 38-12.
FINAL: Georgia 38, Tennessee 12
Guarantano finished the game 13/12 with 143 yards through the air and a pair of touchdowns. It marked the first time this season that Guaranatno threw for multiple touchdowns in one game.
Tennessee’s run game was virtually shutdown by the Georgia defense, finishing with a total of 76 yards on the ground and no touchdowns. Chandler lead all rushers with 27 yards on five attempts. Incidentally, Chandler lead in receiving as well with 53 yards.
For Georgia, Fromm passed for 185 yards while freshman Justin Fields rushed for 45 yards and two scores. Elijah Holyfield lead the backfield with 78 yards, while Swift was responsible for two touchdowns. In total, the Bulldogs ran for over 240 yards on Tennessee’s defense.
The road does not get any easier for Tennessee as they travel to the Plains to face No. 10 Auburn next Saturday.