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QB Fields runs for 2 TDs, No. 2 Georgia tops Vols, 38-12

September 30, 2018
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Georgia quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — There wasn’t much offensive flair in what Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm described as a “ground and pound” game against Tennessee.

There was, however, a new mix at quarterback and that may have been the most notable action in No. 2 Georgia’s 38-12 victory over the Vols on Saturday.

Fromm’s backup, freshman Justin Fields, played a bigger role, coming onto the field in each of the final three quarters. After Fields had scoring runs of 12 and 15 yards, coach Kirby Smart was asked about his plans at quarterback the remainder of the season.

“The plan is there is no plan,” Smart said. He repeated the “no plan” line when asked a follow-up question.

The real plan may be to run the ball. Georgia outrushed Tennessee 251-66.

D’Andre Swift ran for two touchdowns, including a late 14-yarder to ice the game. Otherwise, the Bulldogs leaned on their defense.

Georgia (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) scored touchdowns on its last drive of the first half and the opening possession after halftime but otherwise couldn’t maintain momentum.

Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) was held to 209 yards. The Vols finally scored on Jarrett Guarantano’s 37-yard pass to Josh Palmer late in the third quarter. Guarantano’s 35-yard scoring pass to Ty Chandler about four minutes into the final quarter cut Georgia’s lead to 24-12.

Pruitt was encouraged even though the loss extended Tennessee’s school-record losing streak in conference games to 11 since a 63-37 win over Missouri on Nov. 19, 2016.

“I learned we’ve got fight in us, that we’re not going to quit,” Pruitt said. “It kind of gets me excited. . I’m proud of them and the way they fought. . Our guys kept fighting which means we’re headed in the right direction and that excites me. That’s why I’m getting a little bit emotional.”

Fromm completed 16 of 22 passes for 185 yards. Fields, the dual-threat quarterback who was a headliner in Smart’s 2018 signing class, did more running than passing. Fields had five carries for 45 yards and the two touchdowns and completed 1 of 2 passes for 5 yards.

“I thought both guys did some good things,” Smart said, adding Fields “provided us a spark we needed at times.”

Fromm had two fumbles and each was recovered by Georgia, including one returned 31 yards by tight end Isaac Nauta for a touchdown on the Bulldogs’ opening drive.

Guarantano, who left last week’s loss to Florida after taking a hit to the left knee, wore a brace on the knee while completing 13 of 21 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vols failed on 2-point conversions after each touchdown.

“We just have to sustain jobs and execute and we just weren’t able to do that in the first half,” said Ty Chandler, who led the Vols with 27 yards rushing. “Credit to them.”

Swift had 50 yards rushing in Georgia’s balanced running attack led by Elijah Holyfield’s 16 carries for 78 yards. Brian Herrien had nine carries for 56 yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tennessee: A sign of improvement: After six turnovers last week against Florida and a combined eight the last two weeks, the Vols had no turnovers before Jeremy Banks’ fumble was recovered by Georgia’s Juwan Taylor with 3:24 remaining. Another reason for encouragement was the comeback attempt which cut the deficit to 12 points early in the final quarter before fading.

Georgia: The Bulldogs showed improvement in their run defense. After giving up 172 yards on the ground in last week’s 43-29 win at Missouri, Georgia held Tennessee to 66 yards rushing, including 30 yards on 12 carries in the first half.

“We knew we couldn’t let it happen again,” said linebacker D’Andre Walker, referring to the Missouri game. “That wasn’t our brand of football.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Bulldogs have won by comfortable margins two straight weeks despite having uneven performances that were criticized by Smart. Poll voters who pay attention to betting lines might notice Georgia, favored by 31 ½ points, failed to cover the generous line. Still, the final margin of victory should keep the Bulldogs from dropping in the Top 25.

INJURIES

Tennessee receiver Marquez Callaway did not return after a hard hit on his 13-yard catch early in the second half. ... An official, field judge Sean Petty, was carted off the field after he suffered a left leg injury on Swift’s scoring run late in the game.

LEGEND VS LEGEND

In a matchup of team greats, Georgia’s Herschel Walker accompanied the team on its pregame Dawg Walk into the stadium and led a pregame cheer on the field. Meanwhile, former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning was on the Tennessee sideline.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: Following a week off, the Vols face another ranked SEC team when they visit No. 10 Auburn on Oct. 13. Tennessee plays No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 20.

Georgia: The Bulldogs play their fourth game against a team from the state of Tennessee when Vanderbilt visits Sanford Stadium next Saturday. Georgia already has home wins over Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State.

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