Atlanta, GA – Tennessee junior John Kelly dashed for four touchdowns and picked up 128 of UT’s 148 rushing yards on the ground en route to a double overtime victory against Georgia Tech in the Vols’ season opening Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Tennessee went into overtime for the second-consecutive season opener, using three rushes and an extra point by Aaron Medley to score in the first period after Georgia Tech crossed the plane on their possession to keep the game tied, 35-35.
During the second overtime session, junior Quinten Dormady connected on a 15-yard pass to Marquez Callaway. Two plays later, Kelly dashed up the middle for a two-yard touchdown to put UT up, 42-35, while Tennessee’s defense held Georgia Tech to a touchdown, stopping a two-point conversion attempt to win the game, 42-41.
After trading drives to to start the firsts quarter, Georgia Tech capitalized on a 12-play, 86-yard drive to pull ahead, 7-0.
In the second quarter, sophomore Daniel Bituli forced the first fumble of his career to jumpstart an Orange and White scoring drive. Tennessee advanced down the field 45 yards before Kelly punched it in for one yard to tie the game at 7-7.
Georgia Tech ran 7:06 off the clock on the ensuing drive, ending on a one-yard rush and good PAT to pull ahead, 14-7.
The Yellow Jackets went on to score their third rushing touchdown of the game in the second half after an 80-yard drive, pushing their advantage to 21-7.
A fourth-down stop by Tennessee’s defense with 3:14 left in the third started the Vol’s 70-yard scoring series. Dormady completed five of six passes in the quarter for 41 yards and connected with Callaway, cutting GT’s lead, 21-14.
To start the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech used seven plays, including a 42-yard pass, to make it a 14-point game.
Tennessee’s offense answered, putting together a 61-yard drive in just over a minute. Dormady capped the possession with a 50-yard pass to Callaway, trimming the Yellow Jackets’ lead, 28-21.
With 4:50 left in the game, senior Rashaan Gaulden forced a fumble that was recovered by Micah Abernathy at Tennessee’s seven-yard line. The Vols then marched 93 yards down the field using a 40-yard catch by Callaway and two runs by Kelly for 27 yards and a touchdown to tie the game, 28-28.
The Vols’ carried the momentum to the defensive side of the ball as redshirt junior walk-on Paul Bain blocked Georgia Tech’s three-point attempt to send the game to overtime.
Tennessee’s home opener is slated for September 9th, 2017 against Indiana State with kickoff set for 3:00pm CT. Tickets for that contest are still available. Fans can purchase tickets on AllVols.com or by calling or visiting the Thompson-Boling Arena box office (1.800.332.VOLS).