Athens, Georgia – Tennessee No. 1’s eight-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga., as the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs earned a 27-13 triumph over the Big Orange at home of Sanford Stadium.
The Vols (8-1, 4-1 SEC) were limited to 13 points and 289 total yards against a Georgia unit that entered the weekend leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (10 .5) and total defense (262.6). Penalties and negative plays proved costly for the Big Orange, as Tennessee allowed a season-high six sacks and committed nine penalties for 55 yards of lost yardage.
With no touchdown throws on Saturday, Hooker’s program-record streak with a touchdown pass ended at 20 games. During that streak, the Tennessee gunslinger had 52 touchdowns with three interceptions.
Second running back Jaylen Wright led the Vols on the ground between the hurdles, rushing 21 times for a record 69 yards and Tennessee’s only touchdown. It was his 10th career score and sixth of the season as the Durham, North Carolina native eclipsed 500 rushing yards this year.
Georgian caller Stetson Bennett IV guided the Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0) to victory with three total touchdowns, throwing for 257 yards and two touchdowns while adding 13 rushing yards. Second Redshirt Ladd McConkey led all receivers with 94 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The Tennessee defense forced multiple turnovers for the seventh time this season, finishing with two fumble recoveries. Redshirt Senior Linebacker Juwan Mitchell posted a team-high eight tackles for the second straight week, while Jeremy Banks accounted for seven total tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a pass breakup.
The Volunteers defense picked up a takeaway in the first practice of the game when the senior defensive end in the red shirt LaTrell Bumphus hit the ball from Georgia running back Daijun Edwards, recording his first career forced fumble on a six-yard tackle for loss. STAR start Tamarion McDonald jumped on the rolling pigskin to secure the turnover inside UGA territory at the 47-yard line.
Tennessee took three points on the turnover as a senior redshirt placekicker Chase McGrath A 47-yard try sailed through the uprights and put the Big Orange ahead 3-0 early.
The Bulldogs responded with a quick five-play, 80-yard touchdown, triggered by a 52-yard deep ball for wide Arian Smith — the longest passing game for a UGA wide receiver this season. Bennett capped the series with a 13-yard run to the pylon, giving Georgia a 7-3 lead with 8:32 left in the first quarter.
After pinning the Vols to their own one-yard line on a booming 75-yard punt and forcing a quick three-and-out, Georgia capitalized on a short field position with a 37-yard connection between Bennett and McConkey. Le large broke free on the right side and scored wide open to provide a 14-3 cushion for the Bulldogs with 3:32 left in the opening stanza.
Georgia racked up more points early in the second quarter, using a six-game, 64-yard touchdown to move up 21-3 with 14:17 left in the first half. The series was highlighted by running back Kenny McIntosh’s 49-yard grab on a wheel road and punctuated by a five-yard strike to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, putting both feet to the back of the end zone to advance three scores.
Tennessee entered the red zone on the ensuing practice, but back-to-back false start penalties blocked the Big Orange from settling for a field goal. McGrath had his second attempt of the afternoon, connecting from 36 yards to cut the deficit to 21-6 with 9:36 left in the second quarter.
Georgia added three points as time expired at halftime when Jack Podlesny stepped in and converted a 19-yard field goal, giving the Bulldogs a 24-6 advantage as both teams headed for the cloakrooms.
Both teams’ long possessions melted away nearly 14 minutes from the game clock in the third quarter before Podlesny fired three more with a 38-yard field goal, giving UGA a three-touchdown lead with 1:09 left. in the third.
Tennessee’s first and only touchdown of the contest came with 4:15 left in the game as Wright rushed down the middle for a five-yard score, capping an eight-play, 61-yard streak. The drive was kept alive when Hooker found Hyatt in the middle for a 28-yard gain on the 4th-and-8 before the TD was hit on the very next play. McGrath’s PAT made it 27-13 in favor of the Georgia, who held for the final game score.
Next step for UT football
The Tennessee Vols football team returns home Saturday, November 12 for its final home game of the season against the Missouri Tigers. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET / 11:00 a.m. CT inside Neyland Stadium, with the game televised nationally on CBS or ESPN.