There were numerous critical things that happened in Tennessee football’s loss to the Georgia State Panthers. Here are the key moments for the Volunteers.
It was a low point for Tennessee football. After all the expectations an improved team, a program that went 5-7 and loss six games by 25 or more points last year suffered a loss worse than all of them to open Jeremy Pruitt’s second season.
The Vols lost 38-23 to a team that went 2-10 last year and is in the Sun Belt. Panic set in as things got close late in the second quarter, but there were numerous key moments that cost them in the end.
Here, we’re going to take a look at those moments. These are the key plays that were the turning points of the game. Lots of things were bad for UT, and they gave up lots of big plays, but these specific incidents were the reason the game went the way it did in Tennessee football’s loss. Here’s a look at all of those moments.
Ty Chandler fumbles on the opening drive.
There’s no better way to set in panic than fumbling on the second play of the game. The Vols gave up a touchdown to the Georgia State Panthers on the ensuing drive, spotting them a 7-0 lead. At the time, it just seemed like a fluke play. But it was enough to give Shawn Elliott’s team confidence, and that confidence lasted.
Vols get stopped on 3rd and 1 in the second quarter.
After rebounding from that turnover to score back to back touchdowns, Jim Chaney’s offense was humming. Jarrett Guarantano directed two touchdown drives, and they had the ball again up 14-7. But on 3rd and 1, Georgia State made a key stop. Rather than go for it on 4th and 1, Jeremy Pruitt punted, allowing GSU to get back in the game.
Georgia State converts a 4th and 1 in the second quarter.
This was the difference between Shawn Elliott and Jeremy Pruitt. After punting on 4th and 1 and passing up a chance to go for the kill, Tennessee football allowed a 4th and 1 of its own to Georgia State on the next drive. GSU then drove down the field and scored a touchdown to tie it up, letting everybody know they were not going away, and letting panic set in.
Dan Ellington throws third quarter touchdown pass.
A 17-14 lead at halftime had fans concerned. But Georgia State’s drive to open the second half changed everything. There could have been any play on this drive make the list, but we’re going to go with the one that gave GSU the lead, a touchdown pass from Dan Ellington to Aubry Payne. That put them in control.
Jarrett Guarantano fumbles in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee football could not cash in with touchdowns, settling for field goals. But down 28-23 in the fourth quarter, they still had a chance to get back in front. Georgia State made sure that wouldn’t happen, though. On a brilliantly called corner blitz, they hit Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble. Then they scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 35-23 and take full control of the game.
There were plenty of other plays even after that that secured GSU the victory. Guarantano’s interception didn’t help, the touchdown run itself to go up was big, and the aggressive defense never stopped. But the Guarantano fumble made the GSU upset real, as it put them in complete control of the game.