Top-Ranked Bulldogs Roll Past Ball State
The offense piled up the points, the defense forced a lot of turnovers and punts, and top-ranked Georgia even got a special teams touchdown in Saturdays’ 45-3 win over Ball State at Sanford Stadium. After a quiet first quarter, the Bulldogs put 31 on the scoreboard in the second to blow open the game.
By the end, six different Georgia players scored touchdowns, the defense had three interceptions, and the Bulldogs (2-0) had outgained the Cardinals 387-224. Quarterback Carson Beck was sharp in his second start, completing 23 of 30 passes for 283 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception on a bobbled pass.
The Bulldogs kick off Southeastern Conference play next Saturday, Sept. 16, when South Carolina returns to Dooley Field for the 3:30 p.m. game on CBS.
Mekhi Mews provided the Bulldogs, and the crowd of 92,746, with a big spark early in the second quarter of a then-scoreless game, returning a punt 69 yards for a touchdown. Mews started the game with a 42-yard kickoff return and was close to breaking a couple more for big yards. Mews also had three receptions for 27 yards.
Georgia moved the ball effectively on its opening drive, which got off to a great start thanks to the 42-yard kickoff return by Mews, to the Bulldog 48. Beck completed a 13-yard pass to Dillon Bell on first down, followed soon after by a 10-yard completion to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and a 16-yarder to Dominic Lovett. The Bulldogs had a first down at the 12 but never got past the 10, and then Peyton Woodring missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt.
On the third play of the second quarter, Mews caught the low, line-drive putt at the 31, scooted to his right and went untouched on a 69-yard return for a touchdown. It was Georgia’s first punt return TD since Mecole Hardman did it in 2018. Woodring’s extra point put Georgia ahead 7-0 with 14:32 left in the half.
Georgia’s defense made the next big play in the game. Safety Malaki Starks intercepted a deep ball up the left side by Cardinals quarterback Kadin Semonza — a pass that hung up in the air, giving Starks plenty of time to get a bead on it — and the sophomore went up over the receiver and brought down the interception at the Bulldog 22. It was the defense’s second INT of the season; Kyron Jones had a pick-6 in Georgia’s season opener last week.
The Bulldog offense took full advantage of the turnover, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Beck to Rosemy-Jacksaint on third-and-goal. The drive was powered by two Beck-to-Arian Smith connections. The first was a 13-yard completion with a 15-yard facemark penalty tacked on, On the next play, Beck hit Smith in stride going toward the left side for a 37-yard gain, helping Georgia take a 14-0lead with 10:16 to play in the half.
Less than a minute later, linebacker Chaz Chambliss snagged a deflected Semonza pass and pulled in his first career interception. Two plays later, wideout Dillon Bell, lined up in the backfield, took a handoff, cut to the outside on the right and sprinted into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead. It was Bell’s fourth career TD, but first on the ground.
After the defense got another quick stop, the offense worked its way down the field. Beck hit wideout C.J. Smith for 16 yards and later, he connected with receiver Rara Thomas for 18. A two-yard Lovett touchdown on fourth-and-goal was wiped out by a penalty, so Georgia had to settle for a 35-yard Woodring field goal, making it 24-0 with 1:49 on the clock.
Just eight seconds later, STAR Tykee Smith intercepted a pass broken up by Daylen Everett, returning the ball 12 yards to the Cardinal 20. It was Georgia’s third INT of the half and fourth of the season. The Bulldogs turned the takeaway in a touchdown when running back Kendall Milton went over the top from the 1, pushing Georgia ahead 31-0 with 37 seconds left until halftime.
The Bulldogs’ fifth touchdown of the day was a 27-yard strike into the back right corner of the end zone. The completion from Beck to running back Cash Jones put UGA up 38-0 with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Georgia’s defense got a stop on fourth-and-1 inside UGA territory late in the third quarter. On the first play of the ensuing drive, running back Roderick Robinson went right for 14 yards. That was followed by a 41-yard completion from Beck to tight end Oscar Delp that included a Delp leap over a diving defender. On first down on the 12, Robinson scooted in for an easy score and a 45-0 lead with 46 seconds left in the third.
Ball State (2-0) finally got on the scoreboard with 9:05 left in the game thanks to a 28-yard field goal by Jackson Courville.