Bulldogs knock off Gators in Jacksonville
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Bulldogs knock off Gators in Jacksonville

Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The No. 1-ranked Georgia football team built a big lead, saw it disappear, then built it up again, before finally finishing off Florida, 42-20, on Saturday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field.

Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) jumped out to a 21-0 lead but later hurt itself with three turnovers that helped Florida (4-4, 1-4) get back in the game. The Bulldogs finished with 555 yards of offense to the Gators’ 371.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, while the ground game produced 239 yards and four touchdowns. Daijun Edwards (106 yards, Georgia’s first 100-yard rushing game of the season) and Kenny McIntosh (90 yards) both scored two rushing touchdowns.

After meeting No. 101 in this border-state battle, the Bulldogs now hold a 55-44-2 advantage. This was the second straight year in which Georgia came in as the No. 1 team in the country while the Gators were unranked. Georgia coach Kirby Smart is now 5-2 against Florida, with the Bulldogs winning five of the last six.

Georgia got on the scoreboard first, taking its second drive 66 yards on eight plays. Bennett began the drive with back-to-back completions to tight end Brock Bowers, for a combined 33 yards, and later Bennett hit tight end Darnell Washington for 13. Edwards closed the drive out with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 7:15 left in the first quarter.

After the defense forced Florida into a second straight three-and-out to start the game, Georgia’s offense rolled down the field for another touchdown. The drive featured a Bennett-to-Bowers connection for 19 yards, Edwards ran up the middle for 20, and a Bennett completion to Washington for 25 yards to the 2. McIntosh then made it 14-0 with a 2-yard run.

The Gators picked off a Bennett pass on Georgia’s next drive, but the defense again stopped Florida quickly and forced a punt. The Bulldogs took over at their 17, and three plays later, Bennett his Bowers down the left side for a 73-yard touchdown. A Florida defender got a hand on the pass but after a few bobbles, Bowers brought it in and took off for the end zone, making it 21-0 with 12:36 to play in the half.

Florida cut Georgia’s lead to 21-3 with 5:35 left in the half on Adam Mihalek’s 52-yard field goal. On Georgia’s final drive of the half, a 30-yard completion to Ladd McConkey helped the Bulldogs move to the 7. Two plays later, Bennett hit McConkey in the middle for a 7-yard touchdown and a 28-3 lead. Georgia outgained Florida 346-88 in the first half.

The Gators got the ball to start the second half and drove 75 yards for a touchdown, a 3-yard run by Trever Etienne, that made it 28-10 with 9:34 left in the third. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Bulldog defense in more than six quarters.

Florida forced and recovered a fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive, taking over at the UGA 27. The Gators were able to get to the 10 but no closer, settling for a 26-yard field goal that made it 28-13 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. The Gators scored again, a 78-yard touchdown, on a pass from Anthony Richardson to Xzavier Henderson, following a Bulldog turnover. That cut Georgia’s lead to 28-20 with 3:31 left in the third.

After giving up 17 straight points, Georgia struck back with a dominant 78-yard drive. McIntosh gained 11 yards on a run, Bennett hit Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for 19 yards, Edwards ran for 20, McIntosh ran for 8, and then Edwards scored on a 22-yard run to make it 35-20 with 35 seconds remaining in the quarter.  It was Edwards’ seventh rushing touchdown in the past four games.

On the ensuing possession, Georgia’s defense forced the Gators to turn the ball over on downs at the Florida 49. The Bulldog offense took advantage of the great field position, eventually scoring on a 4-yard McIntosh touchdown run. That was set up a 29-yard completion from Bennett to Bowers on fourth-and-7 at the 33. McIntosh’s second score of the game pushed Georgia’s lead up to 42-20 with 11:44 remaining in the game.

Saturday’s game came one day after the passing of former Georgia coach and director of athletics Vince Dooley, who died at home in Athens Friday at age 90. In his 25 seasons as Georgia’s coach, Dooley went 17-7-1 against Florida, including 12-3 over his final 15 meetings.

The Bulldogs wore a helmet sticker Saturday that read “62” in honor of Georgia football and baseball legend Charley Trippi, who died on Oct. 19 at age 100. Both Dooley and Trippi will be honored during next Saturday’s game against No. 3 Tennessee at Sanford Stadium.


Bulldogs Register Another Victory: Top-ranked Georgia improves to 8-0 (5-0 SEC) with a 42-20 victory over Florida. 

*The Bulldogs now have won 23 straight regular season games including their last 16 SEC games in that span. 

*Georgia’s 555 yards of total offense was the most-ever against the Gators, eclipsing the 502 in 1976.

*Georgia now leads the UF series 55-44-2. Head coach Kirby Smart is 5-2 against UF and 74-15 overall. 

Defensive Highlights: Georgia came in ranked second nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 9.1 points a game. Florida was held to 20 points including just three in the first half. UF scored 10 points off three Bulldog turnovers. 

*Georgia collected three sacks on the Gators who came in having allowed an SEC-low five overall, which ranked fifth in FBS. Senior Chris Smith, sophomore Chaz Chambliss and freshman Mykel Williams registered sacks.

*Florida was limited to 100 yards rushing on 34 attempts (2.9 yards per carry) after entering leaading the FBS at 6.4 yards per carry.

*The leading tacklers were sophomore star Javon Bullard with a carer-high eight followed by sophomore linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (7) and sophomore Smael Mondon (career-high 7).

*The Gators finished with 371 yards of total offense. In the first half, UF had just 88 yards on 28 plays. A big chunk of yards came on a 41-yard completion, and it led to a 52-yard field goal to make it 21-3.

*The Gators got their first first down with 11:25 left in the first half. 

*Florida scored only the second rushing TD allowed by the Bulldogs this season as Trevor Etienne scored from three yards outs to make it 28-10 with 9:34 left in the third quarter.

Offense Tallies Record Output In UF Series: Georgia came in averaging 41.7 points a game and 526 yards of total offense. Today, the Bulldogs registered 42 points and 555 yards of total offense, the most-ever against Florida in a series that dates back to 1904.

*Senior QB Stetson Bennett completed 19-of-38 passes for 316 yards and 2 TDs and 2 INTs. In the 2nd quarter, he connected with Brock Bowers for a 73-yard TD pass for a 21-0 lead with 12:36 left in the half. He completed a 7-yard TD pass to sophomore Ladd McConkey to make it 28-3. For McConkey, it was his second of the year and seventh of his career.

*Georgia improved 8-for-9 on 4th down this year after converting a 4th-and-1 at the UGA 34 and a 4th-and-7 at the UF 33. Up 42-20 with 1:39 left, Georgia went for a 4th-and-3 at the UF 34 and resulted in an incompletion.

*Georgia posted a 28-3 halftime advantage with 346 yards of total offense. The final TD of the half came after a 45-second drive that covered 54 yards in seven plays.

*Junior Daijun Edwards (12 rushes, for career-high 106 yards, 2 TDs) had a one-yard TD for a 7-0 lead in the first, and then In the third quarter, he had a 22-yard scamper for another TD to give him a team-high seven for the year and 11 for his career. It made it 35-20.

Senior Kenny McIntosh had 90 yards on a career-high 16 carries with 2 TDs. He collected a rushing TD to make it 14-0 with 1:30 remaining in the first. It capped an eight play, 80-yard drive in 3:28. He picked up his sixth rushing TD and 12th of his career to make it 42-20 when ran in from four yards out.

*The tight ends were the top targets with sophomore Brock Bowers (5 for career-high 154 yards, 1 TD) and junior Darnell Washington (3 for 47 yards) Bowers had his third receiving TD and 16th of his career today on a tipped pass that covered 73 yards. It was his fourth TD catch of 70+ yards in his career. Also, he has six games with at least 100+ yards receiving including two this year. Bowers’ 154 receiving yards was the most-ever by a Bulldog against UF, the former mark was 140 by Shannon Mitchell in 1993.

Red Zone Review: Georgia went 4-for-4 in the Red Zone with 4 TDs. Coming in today, the Bulldogs ranked 2nd nationally in Red Zone.

*Georgia is now 46-for-47 in scoring in the Red Zone with 33 TDs and 13 FGs. UF finished 2-for-2 with a touchdown and a field goal.

Special Teams: Freshman P Brett Thorson punted only three times (all in the 1st half) for a 39.3 avg. and placed two inside the 20.

*UF came in leading the nation with the fewest punts (14) and today they had six. Georgia ranked 2nd with only 15 and punted thrice.

*Senior PK Jack Podlesny tallied six points, all on PATs. He handled the kickoffs too.

Points Off Turnovers: Georgia is now Even in Turnover Margin this year after having three turnovers today. Opponents have scored 26 points off nine Bulldog miscues after UF got 10 today. UF notched an INT (Jadarrius Perkins) on the first play of the 2nd quarter at the UF 39. It led to a punt after three plays and -2 yards. In the third quarter, UF recovered a fumble by Kenny McIntosh at the UGA 27. It led to a field goal to cut it to 28-13. With 4:27 left in the third, UF got another INT (Amari Burney) at the UF 33. It led to a TD and made it a a 28-20.

For Starters, Captains & Coin Toss: Senior Stetson Bennett (QB), senior Nolan Smith (SLB), senior Kenny McIntosh (RB) and sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson (LB) were the captains. UF won the toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half. After missing a pair of games due to injury, Smael Mondon (MLB) returned to the starting lineup. He had started the first five this year.                                                 

Up Next: No. 1 Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) plays host to No. 3 Tennessee on Nov. 5 at 3:30 pm ET (CBS Sports). The Vols (7-0, 3-0 SEC) face No. 19 Kentucky in Knoxville at 7 pm on the SEC Network.                       


Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement…
“What a great environment and great game. To the Dooley’s back home in Athens I know they are together. It meant a lot for us to win that game for them. All that Vince [Dooley] has meant to our University and such an ambassador of our program and really all of college football. I know if he was looking down on that one he would have enjoyed the first half. I don’t know that he would have enjoyed the second one. He has meant so much to us and in honor of him and their family, it was special. It was a tough time for that to happen. Our fans were also here, the environment was good. We lost momentum in the second half, faced resiliency and stared it in the eye and we didn’t blink and I’m really proud of our players. There was a time there that we lost momentum and that has happened to us more this year than it did last year and we bounced back. I am really proud of the players.”

On the drive after Florida made the score 28-20…
“That was probably the drive of the year so far right. They answered the bell. It’s 28-20 and weve lost momentum. We had 3 kickoff returns in a row and we weren’t getting field position and Kenny [McIntosh] had had the fumble. I thought Kenny McIntosh showed a little something tonight. When he came out after that fumble and had that eye of the tiger look and he wanted the ball and he was running the ball hard and physical and getting yards after contact. A lot of credit to the offensive line but also a lot of credit to Kenny as well. That drive that you are referencing was big for us.”

On what he said to Kenny McIntosh after the touchdown…
“I told him that he was a bad M’Fer. He is tough, he is physical, he got after it and he responded. That’s what I talk about. You’ve got an opportunity to show resiliency which is one of our four DNA characteristics. Every NFL scout and every Georgia fan watching will remember how he responded. He ran the ball with vicious attitude. Just a contact seeking back.”

On Jalen Carter…
“I couldn’t tell you how he looked because I was trying to watch the back end and make sure our adjustments were there. We will watch the tape and evaluate it. It is great that he fought himself to get back and rehabbed himself to get back. He wanted to play. He loves this team and, in a day and age where some kids don’t care about the team, he cares about the team and he wanted to play. He took on the role we asked him to take on and hopefully he continues to get healthy. We need him. We are missing some guys in depth in the front. As we play more snaps we struggle and it showed in the second half there.”

On what this win does going into the game next week…
“Any win, any win exudes confidence. You guys criticize the wins, I am great with the wins. In the SEC, when you beat Florida, any win. They are hard to come by. They are tough, they are physical, they are hard fought. I am proud of them and the way our guys played.”

On Vince Dooley…
“We had just landed in Jacksonville, so we took off and were not aware of anything and then the phones started dinging and the text messages started coming through. His son who I have worked on staff with, sent me a text. Claude [Felton] sent me a text. We knew that it was kind of imminent. I got to visit with him a little last week and sat down. He was in the training room and we got to talk for a while and of course I did not know that it would be the last time, but that is probably my fondest memory. Even then he was telling stories about Georgia football and he has been around my family. They have been in the box during the SEC Championship and the National Championships and my kids have gotten to be around him and its funny because my kids had no idea. They were like, who is this old coach, who is this old guy. Now they know the history and what all he stood for and what his family did for this university. Got a lot of respect for him.”

#13 Stetson Bennett IV, Senior, Quarterback

On the win…
“This was a good team win for us. We made some mistakes and took some punches, but we overcame them. This team can be as good as it wants to be based on the way we practice and prepare. We have high expectations for ourselves.”

On Brock Bowers…
“Dude made a really good play and tipped it then Brock [Bowers] spun 360 full speed. It was pretty impressive. Then on the fourth down fade when they jumped offsides, I knew I was going to him. There was man to man on him, he ran a fade route and I gave it to him. He went up and made the play then we went down and scored after that. You need guys that you can count on and I would say that is most of the offense but he makes plays.”

On the environment in Jacksonville…
“I think whenever the momentum is on our side our fans are a little louder than when the momentum is on their side. Our fans did a great job. I think they came out and were ready for it and we are going to need them next week to come out and be loud the whole game. Especially when something is going bad, that doesn’t mean they can be quiet. Keep it loud the whole game.”

On playing in this neutral site game…
“There are more neutral site games today. Everybody talks about it being 50-50 down the middle but we played in one like that against Oregon. It is cool but you really don’t know anything else because we have only played them here.”

#29 Chris Smith, Senior, Defensive Back

On the victory…
“It felt good to get this victory. It’s a great win against a great team. We had the offense’s back out there and they had ours. We were locked in on our game plan. We had a couple of things that didn’t go our way, but that happens in the course of a game. The key was the way we responded.”

#19 Brock Bowers, Sophomore, Tight End

On his long touchdown catch…
“I was kind of surprised I caught it. I really didn’t see it under the defender hit it with his hand. Then it was like things went into slow motion. It’s like the ball was just hanging there. When I caught it, I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that no one was around me, so I just started running.”

#63 Sedrick Van Pran, Redshirt Sophomore, Center

On the team’s play…
“One of our pillars is resiliency. Each team is different, each game is different, but we know if we play hard all four quarters that good things can happen. We will keep focusing on all the things we need to do to be successful.”


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