ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall had carried the ball 44 times, and Tennessee's defense figured he was going to get it one more time on a two-point conversion try in the second overtime on Monday night.
The Volunteers guessed right, and defensive end Darrell Taylor stuffed Marshall on an option play to the right, forcing him to throw an incomplete pass while falling down to preserve Tennessee's 42-41 victory in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Volunteers, who had rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, went ahead on tailback John Kelly's 2-yard run in the second overtime. Aaron Medley's extra-point kick put the Volunteers ahead by a 42-35 score, but then Tech scored on Marshall's 13-yard touchdown run.
After Marshall scored in the second overtime, Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson immediately called timeout and elected to go for two points and the victory.
Johnson wasn't second-guessing his decision after the game.
"He pitched it late, but he kind of had to throw it out there," Johnson said of Marshall. "If we do it right, he could have still pitched it and the guy would have had a race to the end zone."
It wasn't surprising that Johnson put the ball back in Marshall's hands. He scored five rushing touchdowns, the most by a Georgia Tech player in a single game, and his 249 rushing yards were the most ever by a Tech quarterback.
Georgia Tech finished with 655 yards of offense, including 535 rushing, the most ever allowed by a UT defense.
Tennessee blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation to force overtime.
"I don't think I've ever been in a game where you run 96 plays and have 655 yards of offense and lose," Johnson said.
With the Yellow Jackets holding a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession, and the Volunteers seemingly having no solution for Tech's flexbone offense, it appeared the Vols were headed toward a deflating loss to start the season.
But Tennessee stormed back, scoring two times in the final 12 minutes to force overtime. Quarterback Quinten Dormady, making his first career start, threw a 50-yard touchdown to Marquez Callaway to cut Tech's lead to 28-21, and then the Vols tied the score at 28-28 on Kelly's 11-yard run with 1:29 to go. That play capped a 93-yard drive, after the Yellow Jackets had lost a fumble at the UT 7 on the previous possession.
"Well, what can I say? That was a very, very good college football game," Vols coach Butch Jones said. "I'm just very proud of our players. We spoke all week about a will to win. We knew that this was a game where you had to show some resolve and grit."
Kelly finished with 128 yards on 19 carries with four touchdowns.
"The last fumble killed us," Johnson said. "I thought we had the game in control down there. I thought we could score there and run the clock down. Give them credit: We didn't and they knocked the ball out."