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Late rally, goal line stand pushes No. 25 Tennessee past Georgia Tech in double OT

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Tennessee had defended 86 Georgia Tech runs on the night, the vast majority of them poorly. So what chance did the Volunteers have, facing a do-or-die 2-point conversion, clinging to a 42-41 lead in double overtime, of stopping the 87th run?

Somehow, some way, No. 25 Tennessee found a way to corral Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall at the line of scrimmage and secure a victory that seemed impossible just minutes prior.

Georgia Tech spent most of the evening with its offense on the field, trampling a Tennessee defense that spent six months preparing for an offense it had no chance of stopping. Making his first career start, Marshall set Georgia Tech quarterback records by carrying an astounding 44 times for 249 yards and five touchdowns, spearheading a Yellow Jackets offense that totaled 535 yards and six scores on a steady 6.2 yards per carry. The Jackets led 14-7 at halftime, accepted the ball to open the second half and promptly took complete control of the game with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that consumed nearly six minutes — nearly 20 percent of the available game time to that point.

After Tennessee (1-0) found pay dirt to pull within 21-14, Georgia Tech (0-1) again traversed the length of the field, moving 75 yards in a brief — for them — two minutes and 34 seconds, as a 6-yard Marshall run gave the Jackets a 28-14 lead with 13:08 remaining in the game.

But it was after that point, when much of the Big Orange faithful had had enough and departed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, that the Tennessee offense refused to be stopped — particularly wide receiver Marquez Callaway and running back John Kelly. Callaway pulled Tennessee back within 28-21 after breaking a tackle and streaking 50 yards for a touchdown.

Still, Georgia Tech had a chance to put the game away with another methodical drive and appeared ready to do just that when J.J. Green slashed and dashed for a 36-yard gain to the Tennessee 7-yard line as the clock slunk below five minutes to play, but Rashaan Gaulden raced from behind to poke the ball free and Micah Abernathy hopped on it for the Vols. Tennessee needed seven plays to move the required 93 yards, with six of those plays and 87 of those yards coming from either Callaway or Kelly. Kelly (19 carries for 128 yards and four touchdowns, with five grabs for 35 yards) touched it five times for 35 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run, and Callaway (four grabs for 115 yards and two scores) caught a 40-yard bomb in double coverage. The combination of Callaway and Kelly carried another first-time starting quarterback in Quentin Dormady, who completed 20-of-37 throws for 221 yards and two touchdowns, but was much less efficient than this numbers showed when not throwing to Callaway or Kelly.

With the score now tied for the first time in the game, Georgia Tech had a second chance to put it away, moving 56 yards in 1:26 to set up a 37-yard field goal try for Shawn Davis. After his first attempt sailed far wide left, Davis’s second try was blocked.

With each defense appropriately gassed and disheartened, the two offense took turns slicing through their counterparts in overtime: Georgia Tech opened by scoring in five plays, and Tennessee answered in three. The Volunteers scored in three plays again at the top of the second frame, and Georgia Tech answered in four. Sensing his defense had no chance to stop Tennessee in the third overtime or in perpetuity, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson put his offense back on the field to win it in double overtime. It felt like the right call at the time and still does now — in all, Georgia Tech converted 13-of-18 third downs, achieved 33 first downs to Tennessee’s 18 and possessed the ball for 41:27 — but Tennessee came up with its only stop of the night, the only one it needed.

 

Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa to undergo hip surgery Monday in Houston

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There’s some additional clarity to what was the biggest college football storyline in Week 12 — or the entire 2019 season, for that matter.

After hours and hours worth of ofttimes ominous speculation, Alabama announced Saturday night that Tua Tagovailoa had been diagnosed with a dislocated right hip, an injury suffered in the first half of its rout of Mississippi State, and would miss the remainder of the 2019 season. At the time, the school stated that Tagovailoa “is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment.”

Sunday night, the football program confirmed in a statement attributed to Dr. Lyle Cain, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, that the junior quarterback will undergo surgery on his injured hip in Houston Monday.

For the past 24 hours our medical team has consulted with multiple orthopedic experts across the country, who specialize in hip injuries and surgeries. Based on that research, Tua is being flown to Houston tonight to be evaluated and is scheduled to have hip surgery Monday. As previously stated, we anticipate a full recovery. The main focus has been, and will remain, on Tua, his family, and making sure we are providing them the best medical care possible.

It’s long been expected that Tagovailoa would forego his remaining year of collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft. At this point, it’s unclear how the injury will impact Tagovailoa’s decision.

Ed Orgeron did not stick to sports in Louisiana governor race

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There were two major events on Saturday in the state of Louisiana: LSU’s closer than expected win at Ole Miss and the hotly contested gubernatorial race that saw incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards win reelection.

And yes, those events are in order of importance to most.

It seems there’s quite the sports angle to the latter too and it not surprisingly involves the former. You can start on Wednesday where Edwards, calling himself ‘John B.’ from Amite, called into Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s weekly radio show ahead of the polls opening over the weekend.

“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” Edwards also told the New York Times. “People are just in a better mood.”

While we will leave the political analysis of Edwards’ victory to others, it’s worth noting that the result was also a personal win for Orgeron, who endorsed the Democrat back in the spring and has enjoyed a good relationship with those in and around the statehouse ever since taking over the program as head coach.  It is pretty rare for a head coach to ever wander into political waters nowadays (especially in a non-presidential election cycle) it seems that’s not the case for the Louisiana-loving Cajun in charge of No. 1 LSU.

Also a quick kudos to the governor himself, who said earlier in the week on Orgeron’s radio show that the Tigers shouldn’t overlook the Rebels in Oxford. Given the fight that Matt Luke’s team put up, that was certainly spot on in big sandwich game after beating Alabama and taking on Texas A&M.

45,161 fans see Ithaca beat SUNY Cortland to set D3 attendance record at MetLife Stadium

Keenan Slusher
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MetLife Stadium has been home to some awful NFL football this season but this past Saturday fans in the Tri-State region were at least treated to a far more interesting product on the field..

As we noted back in early October, this year’s Battle for the Cortaga Jug was going to be extra special because it was going to take place in the Meadowlands as Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland attempted to set a new Division III record for attendance. According to the Ithaca Journal, the pair did just that with 45,161 fans showed up to the game as the Bombers (that’s Ithaca) won their third straight Jug, 32-20.

“The electricity was unreal,” Cortland senior running back Zach Tripodi told the paper, “… When I scored, I don’t think I’ve ever felt something like that. You really felt the crowd.”

The final tally broke the previous D3 mark of 37,355 (from a 2017 matchup between St. Thomas and St. John’s at Minneapolis’ Target Field) by a considerable margin.

For what it’s worth, the D3 game at MetLife also had a bigger crowd than the ones that watched some of the FBS programs in New York, including the 16,286 down in Durham, N.C. that saw Syracuse thump Duke, the 8,450 that saw Buffalo lose at Kent State or the 25,747 in West Point that saw Army beat Virginia Military Institute.

Good football, it seems, is hard to come by in the Empire State but fans will come out for quality play no matter what level.

Louisville AD dons a bird mask, breaks out Pappy van Winkle to celebrate bowl berth

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For some teams, reaching a bowl game — even those obscure dot com-sponsored ones — is quite meaningful. Such is the case at Louisville as they have embarked on one of the better turnarounds in the country this season under new head coach Scott Satterfield. 

Following up a 2-10 disaster at the hands of Bobby Petrino last year, the new staff has revitalized the program and secured bowl eligibility on Saturday by beating N.C. State 34-20. That’s a cause worth celebrating around the city and Cardinals AD Vince Tyra certainly did not short himself on that front after the sixth victory of 2019 by donning a rather comical mask in the locker room and breaking out some very expensive whiskey to share with the head coach.

Tyra and Satterfield may indeed be the only ones to drink Pappy out of a Gatorade cup but it probably tasted even sweeter than it normally does given the accomplishment it’s celebrating. While some fans may scoff at reaching six wins in a season, the jubilation in Louisville is a good reminder that benchmarks like that have plenty of meaning for programs who sat at home in disarray last year.