ATLANTA — With the game on the line on numerous occasions, No. 25 Tennessee showed that perseverance pays off.
The Volunteers converted two turnovers into touchdowns and overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to defeat Georgia Tech 42-41 in double overtime Monday night in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I think our football team showed its grit,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “We’re continuing to evolve. We have to get a lot better and make tremendous progress, but I’m just really proud of our players.”
Tennessee (1-0) was led by running back John Kelly, who ran 19 times for 128 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Quinten Dormady, making his first start, completed 20 of 37 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, both to Marquez Callaway, who had four receptions for 115 yards.
“As much as Marquez Callaway sparked us, John Kelly sparked us as well,” Jones said. “He played with passion, he played with energy. He played with a toughness, and he played with a great will to win.”
Georgia Tech (0-1) got a record performance from quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who was making his first start. He ran 44 times for 249 yards, scored five touchdowns and set single-game school records for most rushing yards by a quarterback and most touchdowns. Marshall also completed 5 of 9 passes for 120 yards.
KirVonte Benson rushed 26 times for 124 yards and one touchdown for the Yellow Jackets, who outgained the Volunteers 655 yards to 369 and possessed the ball for 41:27 of the 60 minutes in regulation.
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