No. 2 Bulldogs Blank Samford In Home Opener
ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 2-ranked Georgia football team cruised to an easy 33-0xxxxxxx win over Samford in the Bulldogs’ home opener Saturday afternoon. Stetson Bennett threw for 300 yards, the defense was dominant throughout, and kicker Jack Podlesny connected on four field goals in front of a crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.
After scoring touchdowns on its first seven drives in last Saturday’s season-opening 49-3 rout of then-No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta, Georgia (2-0) didn’t get into the end zone as easily against Samford (1-1), an FCS squad from the Southern Conference. Podlesny, who was busy booting extra points last week, made field goals from 27, 25, 26 and 25 yards.
Georgia ended the game with 479 yards of offense, averaging 6.4 yards per play, while the defense held Samford to 128 total yards. It was Georgia’s third win in three meetings against Samford. The teams first played in 1943 when Samford was still Howard College. Georgia won that meeting 38-0 and beat Samford 42-14 in 2017.
The Bulldogs hit the road next week for their Southeastern Conference opener at South Carolina. The Gamecocks dropped their SEC debut Saturday, falling 44-30 at No. 16 Arkansas.
After the Georgia defense forced a quick three-and-out from the Samford offense, Bennett and the Bulldogs took the field and quickly moved into Samford territory. Ultimately, Georgia had a first down at the Samford 12-yard line but had to settle for a 27-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 3-0 advantage.
Safety Dan Jackson derailed Samford’s next possession, stripping the ball from quarterback Michael Hiers. Linebacker Xavian Sorey Jr. recovered the loose ball at the Samford 41, setting Georgia up with excellent field position. On the next play, Bennett dumped a screen off to McIntosh on the left side and the back scampered 30 yards up the sideline to the Samford 11.
Georgia was again in great position deep in Samford territory, and it again had to settle for a field goal, this time a 25-yarder that made it 6-0 with 5:34 to play in the opening quarter.
The Bulldog defense again forced a Samford punt — Samford through three possessions had 26 total yards and one first down — and Bennett and the offense marched down the field. There was a 37-yard completion to Ladd McConkey deep downfield that got Georgia into Samford territory, and the drive ended with a 2-yard Bennett run to the right for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second, Georgia’s defense got another quick stop and then the offense kept rolling. Bennett hit receiver Kearis Jackson kwon for 16 yards to the 50, followed by two good Kendell Milton runs to the left that netted a combined 14 yards. Two plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to McIntosh, and then dumped off a short screen to the running back, who cut up for an 11-yard gain.
Three plays later, Bennett faked a handoff to Daijun Edwards and found Dillon Bell in the end zone for a touchdown — the first of the freshman receiver’s career — and a 20-0 lead with 8:48 to play in the half. Following another defensive stop, McConkey helped give the offense great field position after a 21-yard punt return to the Samford 44.
Georgia started the ensuing drive with great field position and quickly got an 18-yard completion to tight end Brock Bowers, followed by a 5-yard completion to tight end Darnell Washington, plus a personal foul penalty. The drive later stalled inside the 20 and Podlesny pushed Georgia’s lead to 23-0 with a 26-yarder with 5:01 left in the half.
On the next drive, defensive back Javon Bullard reached in for a pass breakup on Samford’s fourth-down gamble, giving the offense the ball at the Samford 44 with 3:49 to play before halftime. Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards on third-and-6, and later, he hit Bowers for 26 yards to the 2. Soon after, McIntosh ran the ball in untouched, pushing Georgia’s advantage to 30-0 with 55 seconds to play before halftime.
At the end of the half, Bennett tried a Hail Mary throw into the end zone that fell incomplete, snapping a streak of 14 straight scoring drives for the quarterback. Georgia had 329 yards of offense in the first half while holding Samford to 59.
In Georgia’s win last week, freshman punter Brett Thorsen’s didn’t deliver his first boot as a Bulldog until the fourth quarter. On Saturday, he finally got on the field late in the third, with Georgia still up 30-0.
Bennett gave way to backup Carson Beck late in the third quarter and ended his dad 24 of 34 passing for 300 yards, with a 3-yard touchdown run and a 3-yard TD pass to Bell. Through two games this season, Bennett is 49 of 65 for 668 yards, with three passing touchdowns and two rushing. Milton led the rushing attack with 85 yards on 10 carries, while McIntosh led the way receiving with five receptions for 61 yards.
Podlesney added to Georgia’s lead early in the fourth quarter, kicking a 25-yard field goal that make it 33-0. The defense got its first sack of the season in the fourth quarter, when freshman defensive end Mykel Williams tackled Samford backup QB Quincy Crittendon for a 9-yard loss.
Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium on Sept. 24, against Kent State.