ATLANTA, Ga. — The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs opened the 2022 season with a 49-3 victory over the 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in front of a record 76,490 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and an ABC nationally televised audience on Saturday evening.
With the win, Georgia improves to 99-27-3 in season openers, including 7-0 under head coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs move to 2-0 all time versus the Ducks.
“I was really proud of the way our kids played,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “We tried to talk about coming out and playing as if we were hunting, and we wanted to play connected football. That was all we talked about all week; we're going to play connected, we're going to play aggressive, we're going to be a hunter."
Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett began his second season under center for the Bulldogs (1-0) with a 25-of-31 passing performance for 368 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Bulldogs ran for 132 yards on 25 attempts.
Senior tailback Kenny McIntosh led the team with 135 all-purpose yards (117 receiving and 18 rushing) and a touchdown, while redshirt-sophomore receiver Ladd McConkey registered 89 yards (73 receiving and 16 rushing) with a pair of touchdown. Junior tailback Kendal Milton led the Bulldogs with 50 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving).
The Georgia defense stood tall, holding Oregon out of the endzone and allowing 313 total yards of offense. The Bulldogs were especially impressive on third down, with the Ducks (0-1) only converting on 7-of-15 opportunities.
True freshman defensive back Malaki Starks led the team with eight tackles and an interception, while senior defensive back Christopher Smith and junior defensive back Dan Jackson each tallied five tackles.
After winning the coin toss and deferring the option to the second half, the Bulldogs forced the Ducks to punt on their opening drive. Georgia responded with a 12-play, 85-yard drive capped off by a nine-yard end-around touchdown by McConkey.
On the ensuing Oregon drive, quarterback Bo Nix was picked off by Starks, thanks to an acrobatic effort. The Bulldogs capitalized on the turnover with a seven play, 92-yard drive and resulting in a Bennett one-yard touchdown run.
Moments later, C. Smith logged the defenses second takeaway on another Nix interception. This marks C. Smith’s second season opening game with an interception – a 74-yard pick-six against No. 3 Clemson in 2021. The Bulldogs again took advantage of the Oregon turnover, scoring on a McIntosh one-yard touchdown run to take a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Ducks responded with a promising drive, but the Bulldogs held Oregon to a 35-yard field goal. Georgia answered with an eight-play, 75-yard drive, where Bennett improvised and found a wide-open McConkey for a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 28-3 lead heading into the half.
Georgia opened the second half with a six-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a Kendall Milton 14-yard rushing touchdown to take a 35-3 advantage. The Bulldogs continued their offensive dominance with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 18-yard AD Mitchell touchdown catch. Georgia went on to win 49-3.
Georgia will play host to Sanford (1-0) next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game will broadcast on SEC Network.