Georgia runs away from Missouri, 49-14
COLUMBIA, Mo. – With a second-half offensive surge, the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (7-2, 7-2 SEC) pulled away from the 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers (5-4, 5-4 SEC), 49-14, Saturday afternoon in front of 10,830 fans at Faurot Field and an SEC Network television audience.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 16-for-27 passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver George Pickens hauled in five receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore tailback Zamir White also tallied 126 yards rushing on 12 carries with a touchdown. Freshman tailback Daijun Edwards also amassed a career-high 103 yards rushing and a touchdown. For the afternoon, the Bulldogs posted 615 yards on offense, the most for the team since 656 last season against Arkansas State.
After scoring 91 points in its last two outings, the Missouri offense was held to just 200 total yards by the Georgia defense, with sophomore safety Lewis Cine leading in tackles for the second-consecutive game with four stops.
“Really proud of our team, proud of our seniors, proud of our leadership, proud of our staff, and proud of our support staff,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “It was some really tough conditions to play in today, and it just goes to show you that not everybody across the country loves football the way the kids do, especially in our conference. But they love it and they love it at Georgia. The leaders on this team said they wanted to play well and they practiced really hard this week.”
The Georgia defense immediately made its mark as junior cornerback Eric Stokes intercepted Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak on the Tigers’ second play from scrimmage, returning his fourth pick of the season 27 yards to the Missouri 23-yard line. With outstanding field position, the Bulldogs ran six consecutive times, culminating in sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh’s 2-yard scoring rush, his first of the season, wrapping up a 6-play, 23-yard drive.
After forcing a Missouri punt, the Georgia run game continued to excel as White and junior tailback James Cook notched consecutive long rushes. Cook added to the Bulldogs’ lead with a 37-yard catch-and-run touchdown on third-and-8, bringing the score to 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. Cook’s scamper finished off an 8-play, 89-yard sequence that bled over four minutes off the clock. Throughout the day, Georgia was impressive on third down, finishing 8-for-13 in the game.
Missouri answered on its ensuing possession as a 29-yard trick play reception in Georgia territory set up a 2-yard touchdown run from Bazelak. For much of the second quarter, both teams struggled offensively, but the Tigers’ special teams came up with a critical play late, blocking a Jake Camarda punt and returning it to the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line. After two Georgia goal line stops, tailback Larry Rountree broke through the line for a score, tying the game at 14 with just over a minute before halftime.
In need of a response, Daniels and the Georgia passing game came through, quickly moving down the field with three straight long completions, culminating in a terrific 36-yard touchdown catch by Pickens. Using only 43 seconds, the 6-play, 75-yard sequence helped give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead entering the locker room.
The Georgia offense carried the momentum into the second half, beginning with a 36-yard White rush into Missouri territory. Three plays later, Daniels again found Pickens for a 31-yard touchdown reception, extending the lead to two scores following the 5-play, 75-yard drive. After the Tigers stalled near midfield, the Bulldogs broke the game open as White took off for a 43-yard touchdown rush, making it 35-14 following a 6-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
On the ensuing Georgia possession, a 36-yard completion from Daniels to freshman tight end Darnell Washington set up Cook’s second touchdown of the day, a 9-yard rush that finished a 4-play, 71-yard drive. Edwards would then wrap up the Bulldogs’ scoring for the day with a 6-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter, becoming the fourth different Georgia runner to score in the contest. Edwards’ rush completed a 10-play, 79-yard drive.
Junior quarterback Stetson Bennett entered for Georgia on its penultimate drive, marking his first action since the Florida game on Nov. 7. A 47-yard rush from Edwards set up the Bulldogs again in scoring position, but redshirt sophomore place kicker Jack Podlesny missed a field goal attempt from 43 yards out. Freshman quarterback Carson Beck made his Georgia debut on the game’s final drive as the Bulldogs sought to run out the clock.
Georgia will return home next weekend for its season finale against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Dec. 19 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game against the Commodores is set for a noon kickoff with television coverage to be determined at a later date.
*Daniels Directs Offense To Season High 49 Points: In a little more than three quarters of action, redshirt sophomore QB JT Daniels finished 16-for-27 for 299 yards and 3 TDs in a 49-14 victory. Georgia finished with 615 yards of total offense (299-passing, 316 rushing), the most since going for 656 against Arkansas State last year. This is the second straight game with 40+ points by the offense after a 45-16 road win over South Carolina.
In the first half, Daniels went 10-for-17 for 167 yards with 2 TDs as the Bulldogs carried a 21-14 halftime advantage. He directed touchdown drives on the first two possessions and then with the game tied at 14, he led a 75-yard TD drive in 43 seconds in the final minute of the first half. Also of note today, on a 3rd-and-8, he completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to James Cook for the second score of the contest.
On 3rd downs this year, Daniels improved to 16-for-19 for 270 yards and six TDs. Today, he finished 5-for-7 for 120 yards with all five resulting in a first down and two scores. In the second half on a 3rd-and-10 at MU 31, Daniels connected with Pickens for a TD to close out a 75-yard drive and a 28-14 edge. In the 3rd quarter alone, Georgia outscored the Tigers 21-0 with 284 yards of offense to MU’s 48. With 12:36 left in the contest and owning a 49-14 lead, Stetson Bennett came in at QB.
*Defense Posts Second Half Shutout: Coming in today, Georgia ranked second in the SEC in Scoring Defense (20.6 points per game). The Tigers were held to 200 yards of total offense and 14 points. In the first half, Missouri tallied 14 points, running 32 plays for 121 yards of total offense. Seventy-five of those yards came on the Tigers eight play TD drive. The Tigers second TD drive covered just one yard following a blocked punt. In the second half, the Tigers were shutout and held to just 79 yards of total offense on 22 plays. Lewis Cine led the Bulldogs with four stops.
*Big Second Half For The Running Game: In the first half, the Bulldogs had 71 rushing yards on 19 attempts and finished the game with 316 yards after going for 245 in the second half on 26 rushes. Redshirt sophomore Zamir White had a team-high 37 yards on eight carries in the first half and finished with 126 yards on 12 attempts. Then, White had 44 yards on his first two carries of the second half and ultimately went over 100 yards with a 43-yard TD scamper to make it 35-14 in the 3rd quarter. It was his third 100+ yards game of his career. James Cook added a nine-yard rushing TD to go with a receiving score. He is the first Bulldog to do that since 2018 when D’Andre Swift did it against Alabama.
Freshman Daijun Edwards got his first career TD, a six-yarder and finished with a career-high 103 yards on 11 attempts. Today was the first time since the 2018 Kentucky game that the Bulldogs had a pair go over 100 yards. That day it was Swift (157) and Elijah Holyfield (117).
*Receiving Leaders: Sophomore George Pickens (5 rec., 126 yards, 2 TDs) to lead the receivers. In the first half, junior running back James Cook had just one catch but it covered 37 yards for a TD. Pickens first half score covered 36 yards and was his team-leading fourth of the year. It gave the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead with 37 seconds left in the half. In the second half, Pickens tied his career-high with his second TD, a 31-yard strike on 3rd-and-10, and it put him over the 100-yard mark for the second time in his career. He had two TD catches versus the Tigers last year and had 175 yards in the 2020 Sugar Bowl win over No. 7 Baylor. Freshman tight end Darnell Washington had a career-long 35-yard catch and finished with two for 61 yards while freshman Jermaine Burton had five for 38 yards.
*Special Teams Summary: Redshirt sophomore PK Jack Podlesny went 7-for-7 in PATs and missed a 43-yarder in the rain in the fourth quarter. Georgia has made an NCAA record 329 consecutive PATs as the streak includes six kickers dating back to 2014. Junior punter Jake Camarda finished with two punts for a 49.0 average and took care of the kickoffs with all of them resulting in touchbacks. Georgia had a punt blocked that Missouri took over at the UGA 1-yard line and converted to a game-tying touchdown with 1:20 left in the first half (14-14). It marked the first time since the 2015 Alabama game that the Bulldogs have had a punt blocked.
Points Off Turnovers: Junior Eric Stokes notched his team-leading fourth interception on Missouri’s opening possession and returned it 27 yards to the MU 23. It led to a TD and a 7-0 edge. Georgia now has 9 interceptions, on the year, the most since 2017 when the Bulldogs had 12.
*For Starters: The longest streak on defense belongs to junior DB Eric Stokes now at 24. The longest active starting streak on offense is 10 for left tackle Jamaree Salyer. Center Trey Hill saw his streak end at 26 as he’s injured. Redshirt sophomore Warren Ericson made his second career start but first at center. He started the 2020 Sugar Bowl at right guard. Junior nose Jordan Davis returned in a starting role after missing the last three games. Also, senior STAR Mark Webb started after missing the last game.
*The Captains: Seniors Ben Cleveland, Malik Herring and Monty Rice served as the captains. Rice has now been a captain a team-high four times this year. Georgia won the toss and elected to defer until the 2nd half.
*Weather or Not It Matters: At kickoff, the temperature here was 39 degrees. In the Kirby Smart era, the previous coldest temperature at kickoff was 40 degrees against Missouri last year in Athens. The last time Georgia played a game that began in the 30s was the 2014 Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 30. It was 39 degrees, and the Bulldogs defeated Louisville 37-14.
*Series History: With the 49-14 win, Georgia now leads the all-time series 9-1 including 5-0 in Columbia. The 49 points here was the most by the Bulldogs in Columbia.
*Up Next: Georgia (7-2) will play host to Vanderbilt on Saturday, Dec. 19 at noon.
Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart
“Really proud of our team, proud of our seniors, proud of our leadership, proud of our staff, and proud of our support staff. It was some really tough conditions to play in today, and it just goes to show you that not everybody across the country loves football the way the kids do, especially in our conference, but they love it and they love it at Georgia. The leaders on this team said they wanted to play well and they practiced really hard this week. I thought Monday and Tuesday were our best practices of the entire year. They had a lot of juice and energy. For whatever reason, coming off the break, I think it actually helped them a little bit with that and gave them a lot of juice and energy, and it carried over into the game. We had some adversity in the game—had a punt blocked for basically a touchdown right there at the end zone and couldn’t keep them out. We’ve got to clean that up. This team just continues to be resilient.”
On today’s game sending a statement…
“I don’t know if it was a statement game. I do know that our kids responded to that, and they get tired of the criticism because of the two biggest games we played and we didn’t play our best. It probably had something to do with who we were playing. I think Missouri is a good football team. I really do. I think they’ve got a good football team that’s growing, young, getting better, and we were able to overpower them in the second half. Early in the first half, we did the same, but they also created some adversity for us. I think Eli (Drinkwitz) is doing an unbelievable job here of getting kids to buy in, and he’s tough to defend offensively. The weather conditions probably limited both offenses a little bit, in terms of being able to do some things. Look, you can make an excuse and say, ‘Well, Missouri’s not that very good. Georgia just beat them.’ You can say that all you want, but at the end of the day, those kids showed up to play and play physical and play fast, and they practiced hard all week when, across the country, that’s not happening in every place. I’m proud of the way those guys handled it.”
On the impact of JT Daniels on the offense…
“There’s no way I can put a barometer on that. I certainly think that there’s a combination: JT is throwing the ball and throwing it accurately, which is helping. It was tough conditions today to throw it in. Everyone is playing in Coach Monken’s system for the ninth game, and the freshmen are growing up. So, I’ve said repeatedly that JT’s doing a tremendous job. I’m not going to take anything away from JT, but I’m also going to recognize that George Pickens is healthy, Warren McClendon being an older tackle, Jermaine Burton growing up, Darnell Washington growing up. There’s so many factors. They’re hearing plays and concepts for the 50th time, instead of the fifth time, so where that falls and who gets the credit, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re playing better and we still haven’t reached our potential. I really feel like offensively, we haven’t been stopped unless we’ve stopped ourselves.”
#18 JT Daniels | Sophomore | QB
On the rhythm of the passing game, coupled with the running game and the offense as a whole…
“It’s what we’ve been looking for the last couple of weeks. I said that was our first real complete game. Mississippi State throwing, didn’t run it like we wanted to. South Carolina, more of a statement game, we came out and tried to run it. Today, we threw when the look said to throw and ran when the look said to run.”
On working with George Pickens…
“That was really the first look you got where nobody is playing help on George, it’s George one-on-one. That’s what it looks what it’s him one-on-one. I will never overthrow George, I’ve never overthrown George. You just throw it up to him and you know a 50-50 ball with George is an 80-20 ball. Probably the most important thing he does, and he and I talk about it at least once a week, I told him I’ll throw it to you every single time as long as you make sure that it never gets picked if it isn’t the right throw. So yeah, that’s George one-on-one, just got to throw it up to him.”
#32 Monty Rice | Senior | LB
On the defensive play in the second half and what changed at halftime…
“Nothing. They really didn’t do anything the first half. They had one drive they scored a touchdown on, they actually drove the ball down the field. The other touchdown was, they blocked the punt. So, they really didn’t do much the whole game if I’m being honest. We just kept doing what we’ve been doing the whole year and we really wanted to stop the run because 34 (Larry Rountree) had been hot coming into this game.”
On what the attitude coming into the game was…
“Missouri had to deal with the same stuff we had to. Not playing for our league either, and it’s raining, we’re cold, they’re cold. It’s really just about when you line up between the numbers. That doesn’t matter. It’s about making tackles, making interceptions, doing what you’re supposed to do. That’s all we can do.”