The state of Tennessee is still glowing after this past Saturday’s miraculous win against the Georgia Bulldogs. Jauan Jennings, a former quarterback recruit turned receiver, made one of the best catches in UT history at the last second to down the Dawgs.
And while it was an emotionally charged final few minutes, it’s tough to imagine anybody had more of a roller-coaster ride than cornerback Malik Foreman, who got the starting nod at outside corner as opposed to his regular nickelback spot.
Tennessee went up 28-24 with 2:56 left in the game after Derek Barnett forced an Eason fumble, and Corey Vereen recovered the ball in the end zone. A few moments later, Foreman intercepted Eason for what seemed to seal the deal if the Vols could just run the clock out. However, the offense went three and out, which gave Georgia another chance to drive down the field.
Butch Jones has had some struggles closing out games, especially ones that go to the wire. “To take the next step as a football team and as an offense, we have to close the game out,” Jones said.
With a minute remaining, the Georgia Bulldogs took over on their own 19-yard line. Jacob Eason took charge and hit a pass to Terry Godwin for 16 yards. Eason then found Isaiah McKenzie and Jeb Blazevich on two more passes for another 23 yards.
With 19 seconds remaining, Eason dropped a 47-yard pass to Riley Ridley for a touchdown that seemed to be the hobnail boot all over again. Foreman, who had grabbed the previous interception, got beat by Ridley on a fade route.
“We were in two-man,” Jones said. “So our corners have to stay in man coverage and our safety has to get open.”
Foreman stayed on Ridley midway through the route until Ridley slowed down then sped up again once he saw Eason was going his way. This hesitation caused Foreman to slow down as well, which then led to the touchdown.
“Sometimes football comes down to making plays as we just witnessed,” said Jones.
Jones often speak of complimentary football. Foreman gave the offense a chance to win it with his interception. It let him down, but then picked him up back up with the Hail Mary as time expired. After an extreme high, followed by an extreme low, all that mattered in the end was that Foreman was on the pile celebrating with teammates.