Bulldogs Knock Off Gators In Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The No. 1-ranked Georgia football team built a big lead, saw it disappear, then built it up again, before finally finishing off Florida, 42-20, on Saturday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field.
Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) jumped out to a 21-0 lead but later hurt itself with three turnovers that helped Florida (4-4, 1-4) get back in the game. The Bulldogs finished with 555 yards of offense to the Gators’ 371.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, while the ground game produced 239 yards and four touchdowns. Daijun Edwards (106 yards, Georgia’s first 100-yard rushing game of the season) and Kenny McIntosh (90 yards) both scored two rushing touchdowns.
After meeting No. 101 in this border-state battle, the Bulldogs now hold a 55-44-2 advantage. This was the second straight year in which Georgia came in as the No. 1 team in the country while the Gators were unranked. Georgia coach Kirby Smart is now 5-2 against Florida, with the Bulldogs winning five of the last six.
Georgia got on the scoreboard first, taking its second drive 66 yards on eight plays. Bennett began the drive with back-to-back completions to tight end Brock Bowers, for a combined 33 yards, and later Bennett hit tight end Darnell Washington for 13. Edwards closed the drive out with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 7:15 left in the first quarter.
After the defense forced Florida into a second straight three-and-out to start the game, Georgia’s offense rolled down the field for another touchdown. The drive featured a Bennett-to-Bowers connection for 19 yards, Edwards ran up the middle for 20, and a Bennett completion to Washington for 25 yards to the 2. McIntosh then made it 14-0 with a 2-yard run.
The Gators picked off a Bennett pass on Georgia’s next drive, but the defense again stopped Florida quickly and forced a punt. The Bulldogs took over at their 17, and three plays later, Bennett his Bowers down the left side for a 73-yard touchdown. A Florida defender got a hand on the pass but after a few bobbles, Bowers brought it in and took off for the end zone, making it 21-0 with 12:36 to play in the half.
Florida cut Georgia’s lead to 21-3 with 5:35 left in the half on Adam Mihalek’s 52-yard field goal. On Georgia’s final drive of the half, a 30-yard completion to Ladd McConkey helped the Bulldogs move to the 7. Two plays later, Bennett hit McConkey in the middle for a 7-yard touchdown and a 28-3 lead. Georgia outgained Florida 346-88 in the first half.
The Gators got the ball to start the second half and drove 75 yards for a touchdown, a 3-yard run by Trever Etienne, that made it 28-10 with 9:34 left in the third. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Bulldog defense in more than six quarters.
Florida forced and recovered a fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive, taking over at the UGA 27. The Gators were able to get to the 10 but no closer, settling for a 26-yard field goal that made it 28-13 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. The Gators scored again, a 78-yard touchdown, on a pass from Anthony Richardson to Xzavier Henderson, following a Bulldog turnover. That cut Georgia’s lead to 28-20 with 3:31 left in the third.
After giving up 17 straight points, Georgia struck back with a dominant 78-yard drive. McIntosh gained 11 yards on a run, Bennett hit Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for 19 yards, Edwards ran for 20, McIntosh ran for 8, and then Edwards scored on a 22-yard run to make it 35-20 with 35 seconds remaining in the quarter. It was Edwards’ seventh rushing touchdown in the past four games.
On the ensuing possession, Georgia’s defense forced the Gators to turn the ball over on downs at the Florida 49. The Bulldog offense took advantage of the great field position, eventually scoring on a 4-yard McIntosh touchdown run. That was set up a 29-yard completion from Bennett to Bowers on fourth-and-7 at the 33. McIntosh’s second score of the game pushed Georgia’s lead up to 42-20 with 11:44 remaining in the game.
Saturday’s game came one day after the passing of former Georgia coach and director of athletics Vince Dooley, who died at home in Athens Friday at age 90. In his 25 seasons as Georgia’s coach, Dooley went 17-7-1 against Florida, including 12-3 over his final 15 meetings.
The Bulldogs wore a helmet sticker Saturday that read “62” in honor of Georgia football and baseball legend Charley Trippi, who died on Oct. 19 at age 100. Both Dooley and Trippi will be honored during next Saturday’s game against No. 3 Tennessee at Sanford Stadium.