Atlanta — No. 25 Tennessee rallied from a pair of 14-point deficits in the second half and stopped a 2-point conversion in the second overtime, stunning Georgia Tech 42-41 despite giving up five rushing touchdowns to TaQuon Marshall and getting thoroughly dominated statistically Monday night.
Bolstering the outlook for embattled coach Butch Jones, the Volunteers pulled off a remarkable season-opening victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a game they seemed to have no business winning.
John Kelly (Oak Park) scored the tying touchdown in regulation on an 11-yard run with 1:29 remaining, and then added two more TD runs in overtime. Marshall, in a remarkable performance in his first college start, matched Kelly’s scores with a pair of his own, finishing the game with 249 yards rushing and a school record for rushing TDs.
After Marshall got to the end zone on a 13-yard run in the second overtime, Georgia Tech decided to go for the win right there rather than a tying PAT and a potential third overtime. But Marshall was stuffed as he tried to cut inside, and a desperation pitch was ruled an incomplete pass, ending the game.
Georgia Tech rushed for 535 yards, finished with 655 yards overall and held the ball for 41 minutes, 27 seconds during regulation. Tennessee was held to 369 yards and ran just 59 plays, compared to 96 by the Yellow Jackets.
But Tennessee came up with two crucial turnovers, most notably J.J. Green’s fumble when the Yellow Jackets appeared to be driving for a clinching score. Georgia Tech also missed two field goals.
Green was hit from behind by Rashaan Gaulden at the Tennessee 25, the ball rolled forward and Micah Abernathy fell on it for the Vols at the 7 with 4:50 remaining. Tennessee drove nearly the length of the field for the tying score.
New Vols quarterback Quinten Dormady hooked up with Marquez Callaway on a 40-yard reception and Kelly finished off the drive. The running back finished with 128 yards on the ground.
Callaway, stepping up big when top receiver Jauan Jennings went out with an injury in the first half, also had a pair of touchdown catches and finished with four receptions for 115 yards.
Georgia Tech still had a chance to win in regulation, driving into position for walk-on Shawn Davis’ 36-yard field goal attempt on the final play. But the kick was low, Paul Bain got a hand on it and the game went to OT.
Tennessee went ahead for the first time all night on its final touchdown and PAT.
It was all the Volunteers needed.
Alabama deals with tragedy
Alabama’s football team had as much to mourn as to celebrate after a huge opening victory.
On the field, linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller sustained season-ending injuries in the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s 24-7 victory over No. 3 Florida State. About 24 hours after the game, a son of wide receivers coach Mike Locksley was shot and killed in Maryland.
That left players and coaches with much more on their mind than football.
“I just feel real bad, just like everyone else,” said Tide receiver Calvin Ridley, who texted Locksley. “I just want him to know I love him and I really don’t know anything else about it.”
Added coach Nick Saban: “We’ll do everything that we can to support Mike and his family in this time of tragedy.”
Howard County Police said 25-year-old Meiko Locksley was shot in Columbia, Md., just after 10 p.m. Sunday. Locksley died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police didn’t release further details.
Mike Locksley also is Alabama’s co-offensive coordinator. He spent last season as an offensive analyst and was Maryland’s interim head coach for the final six games in 2015.
Players were still absorbing the news Monday afternoon.
“I just heard. That’s horrible,” offensive tackle Jonah Williams said. “I don’t have any words. He’s in our thoughts and prayers. We’re going to do everything we can for him.”
On the field, Alabama already is having to do a reboot at linebacker. Miller (biceps) and Lewis (elbow) both play the same outside linebacker spot, and now both need season-ending surgery.
Lewis had five tackles and Miller three against the Seminoles. Both had a tackle for loss.
“But we just rebuild,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “All the guys who get recruited here are top guys, so it’s time for them to grow up.”
Two other starting linebackers also missed the second half because of injuries. Rashaan Evans had a groin injury and Anfernee Jennings sprained an ankle. Saban said their injuries are significant but not long-term issues.
Florida State QB out
Florida State quarterback DeondreFrancois will have season-ending knee surgery today.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that Francois, a sophomore, faces four to six months of rehabilitation after his operation for his torn patellar tendon in his left knee. Francois was hurt during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to Alabama in Atlanta. The third-ranked Seminoles host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Fisher said James Blackman will replace Francois. The only other time a Florida State quarterback started as a true freshman was in 1985 when Chip Ferguson faced Miami.
Junior J.J. Cosentino has played in just five games the past two seasons.
No. 17 Florida is sticking with quarterback Feleipe Franks after a lackluster performance in the season opener against Michigan. He was 5-of-9 passing for 75 yards in the 33-17 loss.
... Quarterback Jacob Eason will not play in No. 15 Georgia’s game at Notre Dame after spraining his left knee in last week’s win over Appalachian State. Freshman Jake Fromm is expected to start on Saturday night.
... Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Parker will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury. No. 7 Oklahoma plays No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.
... Baylor running back JaMycal Hasty is expected to out at least four weeks because of a sprained knee suffered in the stunning 48-45 loss to Liberty.
... Texas starting quarterback Shane Buechele bruised his throwing shoulder in a season-opening loss to Maryland and will be held out of practice.
... North Carolina State safety Freddie Phillips Jr. will miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
... Virginia cornerback Tim Harris will miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury.
This week’s top games
■No. 16 Louisville vs. North Carolina, noon Saturday, ESPN
■Pittsburgh at No. 6 Penn State, 3:30 Saturday, ABC
■Nebraska at Oregon, 4:30 Saturday, Fox
■No. 12 Auburn at No. 5 Clemson, 7 Saturday, ESPN
■No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State, 7:30 Saturday, ABC
■No. 15 Georgia at Notre Dame, 7:30 Saturday, NBC
■No. 14 Stanford at No. 4 USC, 8:30 Saturday, Fox