No. 2 Georgia survived a second-half push from Tennessee, then scored late to put the Volunteers away for a 38-12 victory Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs appeared to be on their way to a rout early in the third quarter when they took a 24-0 lead on a 12-yard run by backup quarterback Justin Fields at the 9:52 mark of the third quarter.
But then the momentum took a surprising, albeit brief, turn as Tennessee finally scored with 5:14 left in the third quarter on a 37-yard pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Josh Palmer. Two critical penalties — a late hit by D’Andre Walker and pass interference called on Tyson Campbell — negated Georgia stops on third and fourth down, respectively. A two-point conversion failed, but Tennessee had some momentum for the first time all game.
The Vols struck again with another long touchdown pass, this time 35 yards from Guarantano to Ty Chandler with 11:10 left in the game. Another failed conversion left the score 24-12.
Georgia regained control, driving 75 yards and eating 7:39 off the clock before D’Andre Swift ripped through the Tennessee defense for a 14-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs rotated starter Jake Fromm and Fields on the drive.
A fumble recovery set up another touchdown run by Fields two plays later.
Georgia dominated the first half, leading 17-0 on touchdowns by Isaac Nauta and Swift and a 43-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship.
Nauta’s touchdown was an indicator that it just wasn’t going to be Tennessee’s day. Linebacker Darrell Taylor pressured Fromm and knocked the ball loose. But Nauta, a tight end, picked up the ball and ran 31 yards for an improbable touchdown.
Georgia rolled up 238 yards of offense in the first half but sputtered at times. Fromm and Mecole Hardman miscommunicated on a deep pass, nearly resulting in an interception. Fromm also had overthrown passes to Jeremiah Holloman and Riley Ridley on what would have been easy touchdowns. Terry Godwin short-armed another pass that would have been a big gain.
Freshman Fields replaced Fromm and seemed to give the Bulldogs a spark. He drove the team into Tennessee territory but then threw an interception inside the 5. The Bulldogs were bailed out by an offsides penalty on the Volunteers, and Fromm returned to the game.
Six plays later, Swift powered into the end zone from the 1 to put Georgia up 17-0 just before halftime.
—Field Level Media