ATHENS, Ga. — Count Georgia senior offensive lineman Greg Pyke among the most stunned exiting Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.
“We won the game. The next thing you know, we lost the game,” said Pyke, who has played in more than 30 games for the Bulldogs. “I’ve never been a part of something like that.
Georgia took a 17-0 lead against Tennessee, and even after the Vols began to rally, the Bulldogs stretched their advantage to 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) reclaimed a 28-24 lead with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left when defensive end Corey Vereen fell on a Jacob Eason fumble in the Georgia end zone.
Eason redeemed himself with 10 seconds left, finding Riley Ridley streaking down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown that looked to give Georgia (3-2, 1-2) the win.
The Bulldogs celebrated excessively, however, and the 15-yard penalty played a role in giving Tennessee the field position it needed for the successful Hail Mary pass.
Evan Berry returned the kick 20 yards to the Georgia 43, making the long pass more realistic for Dobbs.
“The sad thing is we had an undisciplined penalty and that will bite you when you least expect it,” Bulldogs first-year coach Kirby Smart said. “You hate to learn a lesson like that. It’s disappointing.”
Smart said Georgia works each week in practice on defending the Hail Mary pass.
“You put your best jumpers in the end zone and everybody gets up and gets the ball down,” Smart said. “We do drills to rep it. Their kid just went up and got it.”