COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Tennessee Draws a Blank, Kicks Georgia in End : SEC: Hall’s mind was clear before game-winning field goal, which makes Manning’s 349 yards and two touchdowns passing stand up.
Freshman kicker Jeff Hall made a 34-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to lift eighth-ranked Tennessee to a 30-27 Southeastern Conference victory over Georgia on Saturday night.
Any nerves, Jeff?
“Fortunately,” he said, “my mind was just blank. I wasn’t thinking about anything.”
There was otherwise plenty to watch and think about as the Bulldogs and Volunteers raced up and down the field, piling up 932 yards in a back-and-forth struggle.
“It was like a highlight film on both sides of the ball,” Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said.
It was also a tough loss for Georgia, which missed a 53-yard field goal moments before Hall’s winning kick.
“If you don’t care who won, it was a great game,” Bulldog Coach Ray Goff said. “But unfortunately, I care.”
Hall’s kick capped a 48-yard drive in the waning seconds to turn aside the upset bid by the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-1 SEC).
Tennessee (2-0, 1-0) began the drive at its 36 with 1:29 left after Georgia’s Dax Langley was wide right on a 53-yard field goal try.
“Sometimes things are just not meant to be,” Langley said. “That was a great game that came down to one little play. That wasn’t the whole game, although that’s what people will see. A made kick, a missed kick, one team is celebrating while another suffers heartache.”
Tennessee’s Peyton Manning, who completed 26 of 38 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, threw 29 yards to Jay Graham on first down, then seven to Joey Kent before Graham crashed 10 yards to set up Hall’s field goal.
Graham gained 137 yards on 28 rushes, and was the only Volunteer with positive yardage. The team finished with 126 yards net.
Georgia had tied the game with a 62-yard drive that stalled only when Brice Hunter dropped a sure first-down pass from Mike Bobo. The Bulldogs settled for Langley’s 34-yard field goal to make it 27-27 with 4:51 left.
Georgia got one more chance when Manning’s pass was intercepted by Kirby Smart with 3 1/2 minutes to go, but Hunter once again dropped a third-down pass that would have kept the drive going, and the Bulldogs were forced to try Langley’s long boot.
Manning drove the Volunteers 75 yards in seven plays for a 27-24 lead, the scoring play a 16-yard pass to Kent with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
Georgia had taken a 24-20 on Bobo’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Juan Daniels, who plucked the soft throw off the fingertips of Tennessee defensive back Terry Fair with 4:14 left in the third period.
Bobo finished 19 of 32 for 276 yards, and repeatedly converted on long third downs. His touchdown pass to Daniels completed Georgia’s comeback from a 10-point deficit.
Tennessee’s Nilo Silvan returned the second-half kickoff 84 yards to the Georgia 14 before being forced out of bounds by Buster Owens, and the Georgia defense forced Tennessee to settle for Hall’s 24-yard field goal and a 20-10 lead.
The Bulldogs drove 72 yards for a touchdown on their next possession.