5 Observations from the Vols 34-31 Hail Mary Win Over Georgia

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    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

    The ending will go down as one of the most unlikely finishes in Tennessee football history, and it gave the Vols their first 5-0 start since 1998.

    Tennessee started out slow once again, but a Hail Mary touchdown throw gave the Vols the 34-31 victory as time expired.

    Here are five observations from Tennessee’s win over No. 25 Georgia in Athens.

    Same Slow Start

    It’s become a theme for the Vols every week, and they didn’t disappoint to start the game on the road against Georgia either.

    The Vols were out-gained 90 offensive yards to 27 in the first quarter by the Bulldogs and trailed by as much as 17-0. Tennessee turned the ball over twice, including a Jalen Hurd fumble in the end zone on what was going to be a touchdown reception.

    Tennessee cut the lead to 17-7 with 12 seconds left in the half and finally looked like what they did in the second half against Florida. But Georgia dominated the first half, especially on the ground. The Bulldogs ran for 147 yards and two scores, riding both Sony Michel and Brian Herrien.

    The Vols found themselves in a hole at halftime once again. And just like they have in every other game…

    The Vols Do It Again

    Tennessee proved that a sloppy first half was once again not too much to overcome. This time it took a littler prayer, though.

    The Vols struggled to take the lead in the second half, but they finally broke through when Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason was hit hard in his own end zone and fumbled. Tennessee recovered for a touchdown, giving them a 28-24 lead.

    Tennessee stopped the Bulldogs on their next possession, then conservative play-calling by the Vols set Georgia up with plenty of time to take back the lead. And they did, thanks to a 47-yard touchdown pass from Eason to Riley Ridley.

    Then Evan Berry took a pooch kick up into Georgia territory, and a Bulldog penalty pushed it up to the 43-yard line. Then, with four seconds left, Josh Dobbs connected with Jauan Jennnings on a Hail Mary through as time expired to give the Vols the victory.

    Jauan Jennings, the Legend

    In the last two weeks, sophomore wide receiver Jauan Jennings has already earned his place in Tennessee lore.

    Jennings was the first Tennessee receiver since Kelly Washington in 2002 to have a 100-yard receiving game against Florida last week, and he caught, bobbled, retained possession, stayed in bounds, and raced to the end zone for the decisive touchdown against the Gators.

    Then there was his heroics in this game.

    Jennings brought down the Hail Mary pass as time expired to give Tennessee the 34-31 victory over Georgia, firmly cementing what will go down as two of the greatest weeks of any Tennessee receiver’s life.

    Jennings’ line over the last two weeks reads as such: 6 catches, 182 yards, two touchdowns. And both touchdowns were for over 40 yards.

    Flavor of the Game, or Something More?

    Jalen Hurd fumbled away a touchdown but then made up for it with a touchdown grab in the third. But then after that point, he was never hear from again.

    Butch Jones stated after the game that Hurd sustained some sort of “lower extremity injury,” but he didn’t appear to receive any medical treatment while on the sideline.

    The second half was the Alvin Kamara show, and he produced well in his expanded role. Kamara carried the ball 16 times for 62 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. He also averaged 16.7 yards a return on his three punt returns.

    Hurd should be okay, but the shift in game plan was definitely interesting to watch.

    Vols Take Stranglehold on SEC East

    With the win over Georgia, the Vols are now 2-0 in SEC play and are in the driver’s seat in the East.

    Tennessee’s two biggest obstacles for winning the SEC East this season were believed to be Florida and Georgia. Now the Vols own victories over both.

    As long as Tennessee takes care of business against the rest of their SEC East opponents, they should win the division. Getting at least one win against Texas A&M or Alabama would certainly help too.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.