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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Bulldogs Hold Off Missouri, 30-21

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) during Georgia’s game against Missouri on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

ATHENS, Ga. — It was a grind from start to finish Saturday night at Sanford Stadium, a white-knuckle ride for Georgia and Missouri with the top spot in the SEC East on the line. In the final eight minutes, the Bulldogs got an interception from a 320-pound senior defensive lineman and a career-long 48-yard field goal by a 175-pound freshman to help Georgia pull out 30-21 win.

The Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0 SEC), ranked No. 1 in the polls all season but No. 2 in this week’s first College Football Playoff rankings, had to battle against the Tigers (7-2, 3-2), ranked No. 12 by the CFP, to stay undefeated. The win was Georgia’s 26th in a row, the 24th straight on Dooley Field, and the program’s 25th consecutive SEC regular-season win.

It was a one-score game, 27-21, when big Nazir Stackhouse got the pivotal interception with 7:46 remaining. A few minutes later, Woodring, the freshman kicker, made it a two-score game with the 48-yarder with 3:57 to go in the game. Safety Javon Bullard sealed the win with an interception with 1:36 remaining.

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck completed 21 of 32 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, including connecting with Ladd McConkey seven times for 95 yards. The Bulldog rushing attack was slowed down for much of the game, but the backs got meaningful yards late to close it out and finish with 131 yards on 33 carries. Georgia finished with 385 yards of offense, while Missouri had 363.

The Bulldogs got the ball first and took a 3-0 lead on Woodring’s 33-yard field goal. Georgia converted a fourth-and-5 near midfield, Beck hit wideout Rara Thomas for a 26-yard gain, before having to settle for the short kick with 10:17 remaining in the first. Missouri drove for a touchdown on its first drive, taking a 7-3 lead with 5:45 left in the quarter on Brady Cook’s 39-yard TD pass to Luther Burden.

After a very quick opening quarter, Georgia started the second with a first down at the Mizzou 8-yard line after a 12-yard run by Daijun Edwards and a 13-yarder by Kendall Milton. On third-and-goal from the 6-, Beck fired a quick screen left to Dominic Lovett who scampered into the end zone for a 10-7 UGA lead with 13:38 on the clock.

Missouri tied the game 10-10 with 4:14 remaining in the half on Harrison Mevis’ 38-yard field goal. Tigers quarterback Brady Cook took off for a pair of 17-yard runs on the drive, but the Bulldog defense was able to get three straight stops once Mizzou reached the 19-yard line.

The teams then traded punts after short drives for the rest of the half. At the break, Missouri had 174 yards of offense to Georgia’s 165. The Tigers were averaging 5.8 yards per play to the Bulldogs’ 5.0. It was about as close as a game can get.

Mizzou got the ball to start the second half and converted a couple of big plays to get down to the Bulldog 15. There, Georgia was able to get a couple of stops — including a 9-yard sack by defensive back Tykee Smith on third down — and hold the Tigers to a 42-yard Mevis field goal, putting Missouri ahead 13-10 with 11:42 remaining in the third quarter.

Georgia responded on its next drive, getting a 23-yard kickoff return from Dillon Bell to start things, a key pass-interference penalty on Missouri on third-and-17 at the UGA 39, followed by a 16-yard catch and run by McConkey down to the Tiger 15. Two plays later, Milton ran around the right side for a 15-yard touchdown and a 17-13 lead with 8:10 left in the third.

The Bulldogs got a deep stop on the ensuing kickoff and followed that by forcing the Tigers to punt after cornerback Julian Humphrey’s breakup on third down. Georgia’s offense took over at its 33 and drove all the way for a touchdown to push its lead to 24-13 with 38 seconds left in the third.

Beck converted one third down on the drive with a 4-yard run. He hit Lovett for a 13-yard gain to the Mizzou 13. Two plays later, he fired a dart down the middle to McConkey for a 33-yard gain to the 9. Three plays later, Beck hit tight end Oscar Delp in the middle of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and an 11-point lead.

After three quarters, Georgia led 24-13 but the game was still very even, with both teams averaging 5.8 yards per play. The Tigers began the quarter facing a third-and-10 from their 42. Missouri converted the third down and went on to score a touchdown on a 12-yard Cody Schrader run to the left side. The Tigers converted a 2-point attempt to make it 24-21 with 12:50 remaining in the game.

Mews set Georgia up well with a 31-yard kickoff return, to the 35. Three plays later, Beck found Delp down the left hash for a 23-yard gain. Two plays after that, a flea flicker and then deep pass down the right side to Delp produced a pass-interference penalty. Georgia was called for offensive pass interference on the next play, only for that called to be overturned after a video review.

After all that, Georgia faced a second-and-10 at the 17. The drive ended with a Woodring 30-yard field goal that pushed the Bulldogs further in front, 27-21, with 8:59 to go.

Missouri was moving the ball on its next drive when Stackhouse stepped in front of a Cook pass for an interception. It was the first turnover of the game, and it came at a pivotal moment, with 7:46 remaining. Stackhouse’s long return was negated by a penalty, but Georgia kept possession.

The Bulldogs’ drive stalled at the Tiger 30, but Woodring booted through a 48-yard field goal to push the Georgia lead to 30-21, making it, crucially, a two-score game with 3:57 left on the clock. Bullard’s interception ended Missouri’s final drive, allowing the Bulldogs to hold on for the close win.

Georgia wraps up its home schedule next Saturday against Ole Miss, which was ranked No. 10 in the first CFP rankings. The Rebels edged Texas A&M, 38-35, on Saturday.

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