I have seen and covered hundreds of football games, from the pee-wees to the pros, but No. 11 Tennessee’s 35-31 shocker over No. 25 Georgia beats anything I have ever seen.
This is one for the ages. Words don’t do it justice.
There were many heroes wearing orange in Sanford Stadium.
One was quarterback Joshua Dobbs from Alpharetta, Ga. His home-state college team didn’t pay any attention to Dobbs in high school. Tennessee welcomed him. He had the smarts, the size and most important, the heart.
Dobbs had heard all the criticism from fans that he could not complete the long passes. He didn’t look good in practice. Well, the bomb he threw in the end zone covered with Bulldogs was spot on, thank you.
Another Orange-clad hero was homegrown sophomore wide receiver Bennie Jauan Jennings from Murfreesboro, where he played at Blackman High School. Jennings is a product of the fertile Middle Tennessee recruiting area that Vols Coach Butch Jones has used to build a foundation brick by brick.
Jennings is listed in the media guide at 6-foot-3, 201 pounds. He came to Tennessee as an athletic high school quarterback, but was destined to be a wide receiver. He was one of 15 freshmen to start a season opener at receiver since Marquez North in 2013.
Going up in the midst of four Georgia Bulldog defenders in the end zone, Jennings appeared to be at least 7-feet when he reached up and held on to a Dobbs’ Hail Mary hope that gave the cardiac Vols an electric 34-31win over the Dawgs. Classic doesn’t begin to cover it.
In 2001 at Neyland Stadium it was the renowned hoarse voice of Dawgs broadcaster Larry Munson, who has since passed to the big broadcast booth in the sky.
Munson went berserk after Georgia quarterback David Greene hit his fullback in the end zone to give the Dawgs an upset win over the Vols.
“We hit them in the face with a hob-nail boot across their nose,’’ Munson said. “We just crushed their face.’’
Don’t ask. When you win games like the one between the hedges in Athens Saturday, it’s perfectly all right to temporarily lose your mind.
When Jennings dropped down from the clouds with the football in his hands, and the game clock expired, Jones ran out on the field and kneeled on the turf, his hands covering his face. I would bet Jones was giving thanks to the Man Above.
He was about to run out of heavenly gifts, as the Vols are now undefeated in five games, despite being behind in every game at halftime. They are running short on rabbit’s feet, horseshoes and any other lucky charm you can name.
Jones called this game “indescribable.’’ Who am I to argue? I don’t believe there are enough adjectives to cover all the magical things that happened in 60 minutes and I’m including the Bulldogs.
Tennessee just happened to have one more miracle on this day.
As a shell-shocked Tennessee team gathered around Jones after falling behind late in the fourth quarter, all hope seemed lost. He called time out with only 4 seconds remaining.
“I told them we’re going to make this play. You have to believe,’’ Jones said to a CBS sideline reporter. “We find a way to win a football game.’’
They wasted no time as they took their first lead when former Brentwood Academy star Derek Barnett broke through to plow Dawgs quarterback Jacob Eason in his end zone, resulting in a fumble which Vols teammate Corey Vereen smothered for a touchdown.
They went ahead 28-24, with 2:56 left in the game. Ah, but the best was yet to come. The Vols outscored the Dawgs 20-7 in the fourth quarter. The game winner came with the clock running out.
Dobbs led the comeback with his arm and legs. He had faith in Jennings finding a way to make a miracle come true.