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Tennessee vs. Georgia: Bulldogs Defeat Volunteers in High-Scoring Shootout

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for a 51 yard touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

The Georgia Bulldogs ran their thoroughbred freshman running backs to a 51-44 win over the Tennessee Volunteers in Saturday's SEC East battle.

Tennessee battled, until Tyler Bray threw a devastating interception to Sanders Commings with 5:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.

They would get the ball back again with less than five minutes left, but the game was effectively over when Commings caught Bray's pass. Tennessee's penultimate drive found them approaching the red zone, with a Bray fumble killing all their remaining hope.

One last Bray interception with less than 30 seconds remaining allowed the Bulldogs to run the clock out.

Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall were simply too much in the end. Combined, the first-year ball-carriers had 293 yards on 34 carries and five touchdowns.

This is how frustrating Gurley and Marshall were to Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri:

Gurley finished with 129 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns. Marshall was even better, with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, including a dazzling 72-yard run in the second half.

The game started off as expected. Georgia had three first-half turnovers, but they were still able to jump out to a 27-10 lead. Tennessee closed the gap with 4:53 remaining—with a 20-3 run to close the half.

Georgia turned the ball over three times in the first two quarters, leaving a little doubt on the scoreboard, but this game always seemed to be leaning the Bulldogs' way.

A critical moment in the second half came with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, with the Volunteers trailing 51-37. Kicker Derrick Brodus had a chance to cut into the Bulldogs' lead, instead missing a 28-yard field goal.

Score-wise, it wouldn't have made a huge difference, but it was incredibly deflating. That played a large part, momentum-wise, in sealing the Volunteers' fate.

Georgia's offense was stunning; Aaron Murray threw for 271 yards on 18-of-24 passing and two touchdowns, and the Bulldogs defense was able to come up with just enough stops.

It wasn't all bad for Tennessee. Offensively, this team is very explosive. Bray operates one of the most dangerous vertical passing offenses in the country, but the rest of this team has too many flaws to make it matter.

Bray finished the game 24-of-45 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. He did have three interceptions and the game-ending fumble, but you can't place this loss squarely on his shoulders.

The Tennessee run game contributed 196 yards. That's a great performance for a team that entered the game No. 60 in the nation in that category, but it pales when compared to Georgia's electric duo.

This was an incredible game to watch. Tennessee refused to go away, but they were stuck behind the eight ball far too often. In the end, they couldn't make enough crucial plays, on either side of the ball, to get the job done.

Georgia will try to continue their momentum against No. 6 South Carolina in an epic Week 6 clash, while Tennessee will take a week off before facing No. 21 Mississippi State in Week 7.

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