Escape Between The Hedges, Vols Beat Georgia

Posted at 8:26 PM, Oct 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-01 21:42:06-04

Tennessee just believes it's going to win. Doesn't matter the circumstances, the Vols will not be denied.

Trailing 31-28 with time for just one play from Georgia's 43-yard line, Butch Jones told his players they would win on that play before they left the sideline and took the field.

And that's exactly what they did.

Joshua Dobbs heaving the ball from deep in the pocket as the clock struck 0:00, then watching as it spiraled downfield into the waiting hands of a leaping Jauan Jennings for the game-winning 43-yard touchdown.



"You always dream of being a part of a Hail Mary, but you never think it will actually happen," Dobbs said in the middle of the postgame celebration.

Maybe not, but this Tennessee team will never believe it's out of a game. The latest example of their relentless, never say die attitude was on full display Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

The Vols didn't quit when Georgia jumped to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. They didn't hang their heads when they trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter. And they didn't stop believing when Jacob Eason threw what appeared to be the game-winning 47-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley with just :10 left.

Yes, Tennessee got a little help. Georgia was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the touchdown, and surrendered five more yards for an offsides penalty on the kickoff that helped make the final play manageable. But the Vols still had to make the play.

Dobbs threw his third touchdown pass of the game, and the 6-3 Jennings, who Jones called this week "the most competitive person I've ever been around", stretched out that frame as long as he could and outcompeted at least four Bulldogs' defenders for one of the biggest catches in Tennessee football history.

"This is what college football is all about," said an emotional Jones after the game.

It was the reverse hobnailed boot.

As crazy as Tennessee's escape between the hedges was, another rally from Team 120 is hardly a surprise.

Tennessee trailed Appalachian State 13-3 in the season opener before scoring 17 straight points including Jalen Hurd's recovery of a Dobbs' fumble for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

In week two, the Vols trailed Virginia Tech 14-0 before running off 31 unanswered points on the way to a 45-24 romp.

The deficit was 21-0 last week against rival Florida before the Vols posted 38 points in a row to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Gators.

But not even the first win over Florida in 12 years compares to what Tennessee did Saturday, rallying on the road to take early control of the SEC East race.

As it keeps reversing its fortunes from half to half, Tennessee's also rewriting the "can't get over the hump" perception of a program that's fallen off the national radar in recent years.

Tennessee was 2-4 in one score games last season, losing those four games by a combined total of 17 points. They seemingly learned how to win because this season they're winning them all.

And that belief only grew as players mobbed Jennings in the north endzone of Sanford Stadium Saturday after Tennessee's latest hard to believe, comeback win.

The games will keep getting bigger and tougher with top 10 showdowns with Texas A&M and Alabama awaiting the next two weeks.

But after what we saw Saturday, are you ready to count Tennessee out?