Bulldogs Score 36 Unanswered In 43-20 Win Over Gators
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The No. 1-ranked Georgia scored 36 unanswered points after getting behind 7-0 and rolled to a 43-20 win over Florida on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 76,251 at EverBank Stadium. It was the Bulldogs’ 24th straight SEC regular-season victory, setting a new school record.
Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC), which extended its school-record win streak overall to 25 games, trailed after the Gators (5-3, 3-2) scored on the opening drive of the game. After that, the Bulldogs dominated in all phases. The offense piled up 486 yards, the defense posted a season-high four sacks and eight tackles for loss, and Georgia also scored on a safety after a blocked punt.
In the Bulldogs’ sixth win in their last seven meetings against the Gators, quarterback Carson Beck, playing in his hometown, threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Ladd McConkey had a big game with six catches for 135 yards and a touchdown, while running back Daijun Edwards led the ground attack with 95 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.
The Georgia defense held the Gators without points on eight straight drives after allowing the opening score. Defensive back Javon Bullard led the way with seven tackles, while linebacker Smael Mondon, Jr. had five stops, including two tackles for loss.
The Gators got the ball first and went 66 yards in seven plays, taking a 7-0 lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Graham Mertz to Eugene Wilson III. Georgia answered by driving down to the Florida 4-yard line before settling for a 22-yard Peyton Woodring field goal with 6:16 left in the opening quarter, cutting the lead to 7-3.
Georgia forced the Gators to punt on their next possession, with linebacker Jalon Walker sacking and stripping Mertz for a loss of 13 yards on third down. The Bulldogs, after a 13-yard punt return by Mekhi Mews, started their next drive at the UGA 34. A 19-yard Beck completion to Rara Thomas got the drive rolling, and two plays later, Beck hit McConkey for a 41-yard touchdown, putting Georgia ahead 10-7 with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs started their next drive at the Florida 31 after Mondon stopped Trevor Etienne for a loss of two yards on a fourth-and-1 direct snap to the running back. Edwards rushed for 11 on the first play of the ensuing drive, and two plays later, he ran the ball to the right side for a 20-yard touchdown and a 17-7 lead with 13:25 remaining in the half.
Georgia’s defense again set the offense up in Florida territory moments later. After linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson sacked Mertz for a 9-yard loss on first down, defensive lineman Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins sacked and stripped Mertz on second down, and outside linebacker Marvin Jones Jr. recovered at the Gator 11.
The Bulldogs drove down to the 2, where they faced a fourth-and-1. They went for it, and Edwards ran the ball in up the middle for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead with 10:34 on the clock.
Georgia’s defense stopped Florida again with another sack deep in Gator territory, this time by defensive lineman Mykel Williams and linebacker Damon Wilson, Jr., on third down. Georgia’s Joenel Aguero then blocked Jeremy Crawshaw’s punt for a safety, pushing the lead to 26-7 with 9:26 left in the half.
After a scoreless rest of the first half, the Bulldogs added a 32-yard Woodring field goal to push their lead to 29-7 with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter. Beck connected with Dominic Lovett for a 55-yard gain down to the Gator 17 to set up the score.
Georgia’s defense forced a turnover on downs on Florida’s next drive when Dumas-Johnson stopped Etienne two yards short at the Georgia 24 on fourth-and-3. The Bulldog offense then moved deep into Gator territory when Beck found McConkey for a 54-yard gain down to the 23. Three plays later, Beck hit Dillon Bell in the left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown and a 36-7 lead with 18 seconds left in the quarter.
Florida cut Georgia’s lead to 36-13 with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Mertz to tight end Hayden Hansen with 12:29 remaining. It was the Gators’ first score since their opening drive of the game.
The Bulldogs answered right back with a 10-play touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard Kendall Milton run that made it 43-13 with 5:57 to go. The Gators added a final touchdown on a 1-yard Mertz run with 1:20 remaining.
Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium next Saturday for the first of two straight games against ranked teams to close out its home schedule. The Bulldogs host No. 16 Missouri on Nov. 4, followed by No. 12 Ole Miss on Nov. 11.