ATHENS, Ga. – Aaron Murray ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more scores as Georgia snapped a four-game losing streak, routing bumbling Tennessee 41-14 Saturday in a rude homecoming for Volunteers coach Derek Dooley.
A.J. Green caught another touchdown pass, his third in two weeks since returning from a four-game suspension for selling his bowl jersey to a person considered an agent.
Georgia (2-4, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) ended its longest skid since 1990 and provided a glimmer of hope in a season that has put the heat on longtime coach Mark Richt.
Tennessee (2-4, 0-3) made this one easy on the Bulldogs, turning it over three times, giving up four sacks and falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter.
Murray was 17 of 25 for 266 yards passing and ran seven times for 41 yards. Green had six catches for 96 yards, giving him 13 catches for 215 yards since his return.
Georgia's struggles were evident from the normally packed stands at Sanford Stadium. While officially a sellout of more than 92,000, there were noticeable chunks of empty seats for a game matching two teams seeking their first win in the SEC.
The breakthrough went to the Bulldogs, who set the tone by holding Tennessee without a score on the opening possession — they gave up scores right away each game of the losing streak — and marching right down the field the first time they got the ball.
Caleb King broke off a 14-yard run, Murray completed a 12-yard pass to Green, then the redshirt freshman quarterback took matters into his own hands. Looking to his left and finding no one open, Murray spotted a huge opening to the right and took off. He didn't stop running until he dove into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown.
Then it was time for Tennessee to start making mistakes. Matt Simms lofted a pass that was deflected and picked off by Bacarri Rambo, who managed to get one foot down just before he flew through the bench area and actually leaped over the famous hedge that surrounds the field.
The first of the turnovers led to Blair Walsh's 42-yard field goal, but the Volunteers were just getting warmed up with their hapless ways. On the ensuing kickoff, Eric Gordon had the ball knocked loose and Derek Owens recovered at the Tennessee 41. Murray struck right away, hooking up with Green on a 33-yard pass.
After King was thrown for a loss, Murray hooked up with Rantavious Wooten on a 9-yard touchdown in the left corner to give the Bulldogs a 17-point cushion.
Dooley, the son of former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, downplayed his return to the city where he grew up and graduated from law school. His father did not attend the game, electing to watch from home because he didn't want to root for a visiting team between the hedges.
Not to worry. Derek's team didn't give dad much to cheer about.
The Volunteers looked totally deflated after their last-play loss to LSU the previous week, when they surrendered the winning touchdown after time ran out because a penalty for too many men on the field allowed the Tigers to run an extra play.
Tennessee's only bright spot in the first half came after Simms appeared to headed for yet another sack, but managed to slip away from two defenders and loft a 38-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter. But any hope of the Vols rallying was snuffed out by Gordon's second turnover and the third overall.
On a Georgia punt, the ball popped out of Gordon's hands and right into the arms of Blake Sailors at the Tennessee 37. Murray went to Aron White with a 30-yard pass and, even after an illegal block penalty backed up the Bulldogs, Green hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass down the middle that made it 24-7.
Walsh added a 20-yard field goal for a 27-7 halftime lead.
Just about everything went Georgia's way. On the opening possession of the second half, Murray spun away from a would-be tackler in the backfield, took off running again to his left and managed to stick the ball over the goal line just before stepping out of bounds.
The officials initially ruled him out at the 1, and Walsh kicked through a chip-shot field goal. But the replay booth signaled down to the field just before the snap, took another look at the play and ruled that Murray should get credit for a 5-yard touchdown run.