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BULLDOGS DEFEAT UMASS 66-27, PRODUCE 701 OFFENSIVE YARDS


photo: ajc/dawgnation

*** Story via UGA Sports Comm***

ATHENS, Ga. – Behind 701 yards of offense – just 12 yards shy of the school record – the fifth-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs defeated the University of Massachusetts Minutemen 66-27 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday evening.

Georgia starting sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm produced a 4-for-4 clip with 97 yards and a touchdown before freshman Justin Fields entered the contest to accumulate 100 yards on the ground and 121 through the air with three touchdowns. 

Five other members of the Bulldog backfield joined Fields on the ground with nearly 50-plus yards apiece and five combined touchdowns. Freshman tailback James Cook totaled 76 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the second half. In the first half, junior wide receiver Tyler Simmons guided the Bulldogs to 14 points with two trips to the end zone – one rushing, one receiving –  which made him the first Bulldog to register one of each in the same contest since Mecole Hardman in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game. 

The Bulldog offense did not send freshman punter Jake Camarda to the field; all but two possessions resulted in points, due to a fumbled punt return and the end of regulation. Georgia played to the third down only six times. 66 points marked the most for Georgia (10-1) since its 70 against Northeast Louisiana in 1994.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “We challenged them to play hard, to start fast and not mosey around. We got things rolling and did some big things. I was really proud of the focus. The guys played hard…We’ve gotten a little better offensively and we’ll keep working on it. We need to get the playmakers the ball and peak at the right time.”

After the Bulldog defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, Georgia needed just three plays to run for 66 yards, fueled by a career-high 49-yard rushing touchdown from Simmons for the 7-0 lead, capped by a Rodrigo Blankenship extra point.

A second consecutive Massachusetts (4-8) three-and-out sent the Bulldog offense back to the field for a 10-play, 68-yard march. Three-straight Fromm completions were paired with a rushing attack from sophomore D’Andre Swift and junior Elijah Holyfield, who sealed the two-touchdown margin with a 5-yard trip to the end zone.

After a fair-catch squib from Georgia, Massachusetts acquired the ball on the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line. Four plays later, the Minutemen cut the Georgia margin to 14-7 with a 5-yard rushing touchdown.

In response, Fields directed a 7-play, 80-yard scoring drive, featuring a 47-yard rush from the first-year Bulldog. Under pressure in the pocket at the 11-yard line, Fields found junior wide receiver Riley Ridley for the touchdown and the 21-7 advantage.

After another Bulldog defensive stop, Georgia used two plays to reach the end zone for the 28-7 lead. Following a 2-yard Swift run, Fromm connected with Simmons through the air for a 71-yard touchdown. 

Massachusetts tacked on a 34-yard field goal with 7:19 remaining in the half, but Georgia reciprocated on the next drive. A 54-yard Isaac Nauta reception from Fields placed the Bulldogs at the 3-yard line, where Fields used an elusive dash to the end zone for the 35-10 score.

Before the end of the half, Fields was presented another chance for point production: the freshman placed the ball in the hands of a sprinting Mecole Hardman downfield for the 57-yard touchdown. A second Massachusetts field goal secured a 42-13 score headed into intermission.

Cook opened and closed the first Bulldog drive of the second half with a 34-yard kickoff return and a 26-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career. A Blankenship PAT sealed the 52-13 score.

After another Bulldog defensive stop, senior tailback Brian Herrien pushed his way into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown to conclude a 9-play, 80 yard drive. Massachusetts senior wide receiver Andy Isabella added his first of two touchdowns in the second half, but Cook returned to the end zone in the fourth quarter, evading several Minutemen defenders to finalize a 6-play, 75-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown. 

Isabella checked in with his second touchdown for the Minutemen on the night with 8:55 remaining, but the Bulldogs remained in possession to seal the final at 66-27.

Up next, the Bulldogs’ regular season comes to a close at Sanford Stadium on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Senior day is slated for a noon start time on SEC Network.