ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Derek Dooley's Tennessee Volunteers showed progress, just not enough to get a long-awaited breakthrough win against a Top 25 opponent.
Tennessee showed toughness in rallying from a 17-point deficit to lead late in the first half, but the Vols committed three turnovers in the final 6 minutes of Saturday's 51-44 loss to No. 5 Georgia.
Dooley said his Vols ``went toe to toe with a top 10 team that will be competing for a national championship.''
Tennessee fell short in the highest-scoring game ever between the Southeastern Conference rivals.
Tennessee (3-2, 0-2 SEC) took its third straight loss in the series under Dooley, the son of Georgia's former longtime coach Vince Dooley.
The Vols are 0-12 against Top 25 teams during Dooley's tenure. Tennessee's last win against a ranked team came over No. 21 South Carolina in 2009.
``I am proud of this team for fighting,'' Dooley said. ``I think we showed that we have some resilience, but we have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.
``We are leaving here a better team than when we got here.''
Tennessee lost 37-20 to No. 18 Florida on Sept. 15. The Vols have a week off before playing three ranked teams in October. The stretch starts on Oct. 13 at No. 21 Mississippi State, followed by games against No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 South Carolina.
Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) had 282 yards rushing as its two freshmen tailbacks each topped 100 yards. With former Georgia standout Herschel Walker watching, Todd Gurley had 24 carries for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Keith Marshall had 164 yards, including touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards.
``We are better in a lot of areas, but we have to shore up the run defense,'' Dooley said. ``Georgia is a great running team but we are a lot better than what we showed out there today. It was frustrating.''
Georgia which had never scored more points against the Volunteers, needed three takeaways in the final six minutes stay unbeaten. Twice, Sanders Commings intercepted Tyler Bray's passes and in between the Tennessee quarterback was stripped from behind and the fumble was recovered by Georgia's John Jenkins.
Bray completed 24-of-45 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Rajion Neal had 104 yards rushing with a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass.
The Vols trailed 27-10 early before scoring 20 unanswered points to take the lead late in the first half.
``I've always believed that this team has some fight in them,'' Dooley said. ``We just had to go out there and prove it. We got hit by a freight train early in the game, but we were able to fight back and get back into it.''
Dooley said Georgia is ``a great football team and a heck of an offensive football team.''
The previous high for points in the series was 84 in Tennessee's 51-33 win in 2006. On Saturday, the teams combined for 60 points in just the first half.
``It's nice to have a gut-check and come out on top,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Tied 30-30 at halftime, Georgia's Aaron Murray threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to Michael Bennett.
Georgia plays at No. 6 South Carolina next week.
``We've been able to overcome the adversity we've had to this point,'' Richt said. ``The rest of the season hasn't been a whole lot of drama, but I'm sure there will be drama next week.''
Bray moved the Vols inside the Georgia 35 late in the game before he fumbled when hit by linebacker Jordan Jenkins. John Jenkins recovered with 1:22 remaining.
Bray had one more long-shot chance when the Vols took possession with 15 seconds remaining. Commings' interception on first down ended the game.
``Through all the disappointment, I think the team grew a lot,'' said Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera, who had three catches for 82 yards.
Murray completed 19 of 25 for 278 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Murray also lost a fumble.
The game was a special teams mess for both sides.
There were three missed extra points, including two by Georgia. The Bulldogs blocked a punt and Tennessee's Derrick Brodus missed a 28-yard field goal.
The Vols' only touchdown in the first quarter came on Byron Moore's 35-yard interception return.
Georgia's second-quarter unraveling began when Malcolm Mitchell allowed a punt by Matt Darr to roll to the Bulldogs' 1. Georgia punted after three conservative running plays, setting up A.J. Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run from the Vols' ``Beast'' wildcat formation.
On Georgia's second play, Murray fumbled when hit by blitzing linebacker Herman Lathers. Johnson recovered at the Georgia 8. On third down from the 4, Bray passed to Zach Rogers for a touchdown.
The deluge of mistakes continued for Georgia when Gurley caught the kickoff and stepped out of bounds at the 1. Four plays later, Marshall fumbled when hit by Curt Maggitt. Defensive end Darrington Sentimore recovered at the Georgia 18, setting up Neal's 10-yard touchdown pass from Bray for a 30-27 lead.
Georgia pulled even on Marshall Morgan's 50-yard field goal on the final play of the half.