For the first time in three decades, Tennessee took on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Monday night, and it proved to be a rivalry worth sparking again. The Vols win in double-overtime, 42-41.
"I think this is a football program that's built on character, it's built on grit, it's built on belief, and we found a way to win when we didn't play our best, but a lot of that is a tribute to Georgia Tech," said Vols head coach Butch Jones.
Vols head coach Butch Jones refused to name a starting quarterback ahead of their season-opener, but sophomore Quinten Dormady stepped out as the starter Monday night.
Neither team had success early on offense. The Yellow Jackets were knocking on the door with under two minutes left in the first quarter, and they capped off the drive with a TaQuon Marshall touchdown. That was the first of five rushing touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets quarterback.
Tennessee only had 19 yards of offense in the first quarter, and carried a 7-0 deficit into the second quarter.
The Vols defense sparked their offense when linebacker Daniel Bituli forced a fumble and the Vols recovered it in Georgia Tech territory. Bituli had a breakout performance in his first career-start, with 23 total tackles in addition to the forced fumble in the first half alone.
Tennessee took advantage of great field position, and John Kelly powered his way into the end zone to knot the score in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets option attack disrupted the Vols. They controlled the time of possession for more than 12 minutes longer, and added another score with a 16 play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown that lasted seven minutes.
They didn’t waste time putting up points in the third quarter. On the first drive of the second half, the Yellow Jackets added to their lead, 21-7.
Tennessee kept themselves in the game when Quinten Dormady fired the first passing touchdown of the night to Marquez Callaway in the third quarter. But, the Yellow Jackets quickly rained on their parade by shocking the Vols defense with a 42-yard deep ball, setting up another touchdown.
Callaway and Kelly were the play makers on Tennessee’s offense. Together, they set up a Kelly touchdown late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28 with less than two minutes left in regulation. The two scored all six of Tennessee's touchdowns.
"Marquez has always been one of those individuals that plays with great consistency. Always has energy. Always uplifting. So again, that doesn't surprise me," said Jones. "As much as Marquez Callaway sparked us, John Kelly sparked us, as well, and he played with passion, played with energy. He played with a toughness, and again, he played with a great will to win."
With seconds left in regulation, Georgia Tech attempted a 36-yard field goal to win the game. Tennessee walk-on Paul Bain came up huge and blocked the field, forcing the game into overtime.
"He's a walk on, pays his own way for school, has two jobs to make ends meet, and we put him on there, and I'll tell you what, just coming from the locker room, he got probably the biggest cheer and respect from our players," said Jones. But I just respect him so much, him as a person and what he means to our football program, and obviously he had a big hand in helping us win the football game tonight."
The Yellow Jackets went for the win in double overtime on a two-point conversion. Darrell Taylor and Colton Jumper teamed up for the game-winning tackle. The Vols came out on top, 42-41.