Vols ambush third-ranked Georgia
By Wes Holtsclaw
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia Bulldogs didn't have much time to savor their ranking.
In one Saturday's biggest collegiate surprises, the 17th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers shocked a mighty defense and shut down David Greene, for the most part, in their 19-14 upset victory over the nation's third-best team at Sanford Stadium.
"We're really happy to come here and get the win," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. "Many people didn't give us a chance. The win is big, but what we do with it is what really counts."
Greene was outplayed by a freshman, while David Polluck and the 'Dog defense couldn't live up to its top billing.
Tennessee's pass defense was solid, with the exception of the fourth quarter, holding Greene to 163 yards passing with five sacks.
On the other side, Volunteer freshman Erik Ainge was only sacked once while completing 12-of-21 for 150 yards and two scoring strikes.
"It was big," Ainge said. "We were really prepared after last week. We took the loss to heart and played harder."
"Coach Fulmer told us all week that the last time we were underdogs was against Miami last year," he said. "We came in here with something to prove."
Also stepping up to the plate for the Vols was junior tailback Gerald Riggs, who gained 102 yards on 26 carries.
"We never doubted our chances to win this game," the Chattanooga native said. "We were totally confident. We just wanted to go out and prove that we are still a force to be reckoned with."
Penalties and officiating didn't help the Bulldog cause either.
After receiving just one penalty in its win against LSU, Georgia was penalized 12 times for 82 yards against the Vols.
The orange opened the game with a solid drive that saw Ainge dissect the Georgia defense with sharp throws, ending with a wide open Bret Smith for a 22-yard touchdown.
After holding the Dogs on their first drive, Tennessee bounced back again with solid runs from Riggs and short passes that accumulated with a 35-yard field goal from James Wilhoit.
Georgia finally got on the board in the second quarter when D.J. Shockley replaced Greene and hit Fred Gibson with a 25-yard pass for paydirt.
Tennessee later forced a fumble, bringing Brent Schaeffer out for his first drive.
The other freshman led Tennessee into scoring position, but Wilhoit missed a 40-yarder.
After shutting Greene down again, Wilhoit redeemed himself on the next Vols drive with a 51-yarder to give the visiting squad a 13-7 edge at the half.
Georgia got a gift at the beginning of the third quarter when it received the ball on a questionable Gerald Riggs fumble.
The 'Dogs' Andy Bailey wound up missing a 29-yard field goal after the squad was held inside the Tennessee 20.
The Vols were plagued again on their very next drive when, after moving the ball into scoring position, Wilhoit missed a second field goal, a 49-yarder.
On the next drive, Georgia went back into the bag of tricks.
Shockley returned to quarterback, but the team was held to a punt. A fake punt attempt was foiled by the Vols, who took over on the 40.
Riggs continued his running success for Tennessee, giving the squad good position for first downs into the red zone.
He drove the ball inside the five to end the third.
After being stopped on the first play, Chris Hannon made an impressive grab from Ainge in the corner of the end zone.
Tennessee missed a two-point conversion on the play to make it 19-7 with 14 minutes left.
The Volunteer defense put the offense back on the field in no time.
Tennessee ran the clock down with more big runs by Riggs and a nice grab by Jason Swain, but found its only glitch of the game again when Wilhoit missed his third field goal.
It allowed Greene to catch fire with a big completion to Brown, while Danny Ware put the ball in the red.
Brown made another big first down grab inside the 10, then got the ball to the goal line on the next play.
Danny Ware followed things up with a one-yard plow into the end zone to cut Tennessee's lead to five.
Georgia held Tennessee on downs and got the ball back with 2:12 left on the clock.
The squad moved the ball deep into Tennessee territory but failed to complete a score when time expired.
The Volunteers travels to Ole Miss next week for a big 9 p.m. battle against former assistant coach and current Rebel skipper David Cutcliffe.
The game was Georgia's first home loss in 18 games.