It took double overtime, but the Tennessee Volunteers earned a dramatic season-opening 42-41 win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
John Kelly scored two touchdowns in the extra time, and the Volunteers defense stood strong against the Yellow Jackets' potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt in the second overtime after TaQuon Marshall scored his fifth rushing touchdown.
Overtime was only possible because Tennessee scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and then blocked Shawn Davis' field-goal attempt at the end of regulation.
Despite the nail-biter on the field, Tennessee turned heads with a trash can on the sidelines that players dunked in whenever they forced a turnover. The apparatus apparently made its way to Twitter by the time the field goal was blocked:
The field goal and missed two-pointer weren't the only times Georgia Tech's gaffes cost it a chance to put the game away. J.J. Green fumbled inside the Tennessee 10-yard line near the end of regulation, missing an opportunity to put Tech ahead by two scores.
It set up the game-tying drive, which Kelly capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run. Kelly finished with 128 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while quarterback Quinten Dormady threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns—his last a critical 50-yard strike to Marquez Callaway in the fourth.
Even with the heroics, the general takeaway from some was the Volunteers were lucky to escape with a win:
That was partially because of Georgia Tech's dominance on the ground. Marshall finished with 249 rushing yards to go with the five running touchdowns and 120 passing yards, while KirVonte Benson added 124 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Marshall caught the eye of Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly with his showing:
However, the attack that accumulated 535 rushing yards for the game couldn't pick up the final three on the two-point conversion in double overtime.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports agreed with the call even though it was unsuccessful:
Both sides should have an easier time in their upcoming contests after Monday's emotional tilt. The Volunteers face Indiana State in their home opener, while the Yellow Jackets square off with Jacksonville State in theirs.