Georgia Outlasts Missouri in SEC East Battle
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Despite a slow start, the top-ranked University of Georgia football team defeated Missouri, 26-22, Saturday evening before 58,165 spectators at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium and an SEC Network national television audience.
Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC) amassed 481 yards of offense, including 107 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett finished 24-of-44 passing for 312 yards. Tight ends Brock Bowers (66) and Darnell Washington (64) led the team in receiving yards, while Kenny McIntosh led the rushing attack with 65 yards on 10 carries.
On the defensive end, Georgia held Missouri (2-3, 0-2 SEC) to 294 yards of total offense. Sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson led the team in tackles with eight, including one tackle for loss, while Athens area native Malaki Starks posted six tackles and a pass breakup.
“It’s never easy (to win on the road in the SEC),” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said following the game. “We tried to convince our guys all week. We played together. We stayed together. We showed two of our core DNA traits tonight. Resiliency and composure. It took all of the resiliency and composure we had in us to win tonight; I can promise you that.”
Missouri won the toss and deferred the option to the second half. After a slow start offensively for both teams, the Tigers struck first on a 41-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis. This marked the first time the Bulldogs had trailed an opponent during the season. Georgia entered the second quarter trailing Missouri 3-0.
The Tigers added to their lead in the second quarter, on a nine-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 10-yard Tyler Stephens touchdown catch. After driving to around midfield, a mishandled handoff by Bennett led to a fumble recovered by Missouri on the Georgia 42-yard line. Missouri added to its lead thanks to a 49-yard field goal from Mevis, his second of the night.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the second quarter, thanks to an eight-play, 52-yard drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by senior placekicker Jack Podleny to make it a 13-3 ball game. The Tigers quickly responded with another Mevis field goal, after a seven-play, 71-yard drive to retake a 13-point lead.
After stalling offensively, Georgia set up to attempt a 44-yard field goal, however, the Bulldogs successfully ran their first fake field goal since the 2020 Sugar Bowl as Bennett scrambled up the middle to extend the drive. Georgia tacked on a 34-yard field goal by Podlesny to cut to deficit to 10 heading into the half.
Coming out of the locker room, the Bulldogs' defense forced the Tigers to a quick three-and-out. Georgia’s offense responded with a 16-play, seven-minute drive that resulted in a 28-yard field goal from Podlesny to cut the Missouri lead to single digits. The Tigers answered with another Mevis field goal, this time from 52-yards out. Georgia responded 29-yard field goal, but again Missouri’s Mevis knocked a 56-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 22-12 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Georgia finally broke into the end zone in the middle of the fourth quarter on a Kendall Milton 1-yard touchdown run that capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive to draw within three of Missouri. With four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game (26-22) thanks to a seven-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a Daijun Edwards 1-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs’ defense stood tall when asked and forced a key three-and-out. With three minutes left in the game, Georgia remained true to the run game and bled the clock out. The win marked Georgia’s first double-digit come-from-behind win since the Bulldogs beat Oklahoma 54-48 in the 2018 Rose Bowl Game.
Georgia returns home next weekend to face Auburn in the 127th rendition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 at Sanford Stadium. The game will be broadcast on CBS.