Top-ranked Bulldogs roll past Ball State
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Top-ranked Bulldogs roll past Ball State

Georgia-Ball State
Photo: Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

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.

POST-GAME NOTES

*Defense Posts Another Shutout For Three Quarters: For the second straight week, top-ranked Georgia blanked its opponent until the fourth quarter as it improved to 2-0.Today, Ball State was limited to 68 yards on 26 plays in the first half and finished with 224 yards on 65 plays. The Cardinals avoided a shoutout when they made a 27-yard field goal with 9:05 left in the game to make it 45-3. It capped a 15 play, 55-yard drive in 6:41 Last week, Georgia shut out UT Martin until 6:39 left in the contest when they scored a TD as the Bulldogs won 48-7.

Today, Georgia’s leading tacklers were junior Smael Mondon and freshman AJ Harris with four stops apiece. Sophomore Malaki Starks notched his first INT of the season and third of his career. He gave the Bulldogs the football at their own 22 with 12:41 left in the 2nd quarter with Georgia leading 7-0. It led to TD. Later in the quarter, junior LB Chaz Chambliss notched his first career INT. That led to a TD (two plays, 30 yards in 51 seconds)) and a 21-0 advantage. Senior Tykee Smith notched his first INT (on a PBU by Daylen Everette) as a Bulldog and fifth of his career. He took it to the BSU 20, and it led to a TD. Georgia scored 21 points off three INTs. The last time Georgia had three picks in a game was last season in a 48-7 road win over South Carolina.

*Early Special Teams Spark: Redshirt sophomore Mekhi Mews served as the punt returner (3-for-111 yards, 1 TD) with a 69-yarder for a TD in the 2nd quarter, the first by a Bulldog since 2018 when Mecole Hardman had a 70-yarder against Middle Tennessee. Also, Mews opened the game with a career-long 47-yard kickoff return, and he had three catches for 27 yards. True freshman PK Peyton Woodring registered nine points, going 6-for-6 on PATs and 1-2 on field goals (made 35-yarder, missed 28-yarder). Junior Jared Zirkel handled kickoffs. Sophomore Brett Thorson punted thrice for a 45.3 average.

*Offensive Highlights: Georgia amassed 386 yards of total offense on 61 plays in a 45-3 victory. Georgia had 287 passing yards and 99 on the ground. In the first half, the Bulldogs had 235 yards of offense on 39 plays in building a 31-0 lead with all the points coming in the 2nd quarter.

The 31-point outburst was the most in a quarter by the Bulldogs since scoring 35 in the first quarter at Vanderbilt in 2021. The school record for most points in a quarter and most in the 2nd quarter (dating back to 1970) is 42, set in 2011 against New Mexico in a 63-16 win.

Junior QB Carson Beck finished 23-for-30 for 283 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in three quarters of play. Sophomore WR Dillon Bell (3 rushes, 28 yards) had his first career carry, good for 10 yards and a first down in the first quarter. His second carry resulted in a 21-yard TD scamper and a 21-0 edge. Senior Kendall Milton capped the first half scoring with his 10th career rushing TD. Freshman Roderick Robinson had a 12-yard rushing TD, the second of his career, and was the team’s leading rusher with 38 yards on six carries.

*Points Off Turnovers: Georgia scored 21 points off three turnovers (all INTs) while the Cardinals got no points off one INT.

*The Streaks: With today’s 45-3 win, Georgia has extended its school record for consecutive victories now to 19. The streak began during the 2021 season (Dec. 31) when the Bulldogs beat #2 Michigan 34-11 in a CFP semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami.

The Bulldogs extended their school record for consecutive regular season wins to 29, which leads all of FBS, and is the second longest active streak in the NCAA behind DIII Mount Union (55 straight). The Purpe Raiders are off this week. This Georgia streak began during the 2020 season with a 31-24 win over Miss. State. on Nov. 21.

Also, Georgia now has won 20 consecutive home games which ranks second in school history behind a 24-game home winning streak from 1980-83. The current home streak began with a 21-0 shutout of Kentucky on Oct. 19, 2019.

*Multiple Targets: Twelve Bulldogs caught a pass today, and the leading receiver was junior Dominic Lovett with four for 29 yards. Senior Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (2 rec., 17 yards, 1 TD) had his first TD of the year and fourth of his career, this one covering seven yards. Redshirt sophomore Cash Jones (2 rec., 32 yards, 1 TD) had his first career receiving TD, a 27-yarder to make it 38-0 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

*Red Zone Review: Georgia went 4-for-5 in the Red Zone with three TDs, one field goal (35-yarder) and one missed field goal (28-yarder) while Ball State went 1-for-1 (27-yard field goal).

*Captains, Coin Toss and For Starters: Seniors Zion Logue (DL), Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (WR) and Tykee Smith (Star) along with redshirt sophomore Tate Ratledge (RG) served as the game captains. Georgia won the toss, elected to take the football and then missed a field goal. There were no first-time starters on offense or defense. Junior center Sedrick Van Pran made his team-leading 32nd career start.

*Honoring #77 Devin Willock: Junior center Sedrick Van Pran, normally #63, wore #77 today in honor of his late teammate Devin Willock. A different Bulldog offensive lineman will be wearing #77 each game this season.

*Up Next: Top-ranked Georgia (2-0) plays host to South Carolina (0-1) Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 (CBS) in the SEC opener for both squads. The Gamecocks play host to Furman tonight.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head Coach Kirby Smart

On the beginning of the game and having an early kickoff time…
“More than the outcome of the game, which is what everyone will look at because everyone is outcome oriented, is we had a great week of practice. I’m so proud that we had a great day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and a good Thursday. I saw improvement in the team. Those things that I saw in practice made me feel so much better about going into this game. It didn’t start perfectly but I was proud of the week of practice we had, and I thought we created some energy through our special teams.”

On Mekhi Mews’ punt return for a touchdown setting up the energy…
“You’re always looking for something. Defense turns to offense. It’s like basketball, when you play good defense, you get transition offense. When you play good defense in special teams, you can transition that to offense. We started getting momentum there as the defense got stops and then eventually we got them into a long yardage situation and we were able to return the punt. That gave the crowd some juice and our players some juice.”

On what impressed him about the Bulldog defense…
“I was impressed that we got the turnovers, that’s the thing. We didn’t get them the way we wanted to. We wanted to get some punch-outs, rip-outs. We got lucky. We got a great play by Malaki (Starks), we got a tipped ball, another tipped ball and we capitalized on those. You give kids credit for that but without those there are several drives where we didn’t stop them, they stopped themselves. They had a good plan, I thought they did a good job executing that plan. They were outmatched in a lot of ways and they had a nice plan to help themselves.”

#15 Carson Beck | Jr. | QB

On what gave him comfort in the offense…
“I mean, the big thing is our defense giving us good ball positioning on the field. Starting on the plus 40, inside the 50, the confidence just kind of exudes from that but also just feeling each other out, getting the chemistry and just keep working and getting better.”

On the upcoming SEC matchup against South Carolina…
“I mean SEC games are different. There’s a different level. They’re going to give us their all. We’re at home. It’s going to be hot. It’s going to be physical and that’s what we pride ourselves on. So we’re just going to try to be physical and go out there and do our best.”

#32 Chaz Chambliss | Jr. | OLB

On the three turnovers…
“I think it’s good. It was good eyes by the secondary knowing their coverages, where they need to be at that time. But we also said we need to get more punch-outs and breakouts and forced fumbles, which we didn’t do.”

#1 Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint | WR | Sr.

On Mekhi Mews…
“I’ve seen it everyday since he came in here. Him being on scout teams, just going out there against the ones that just giving everybody the blues. Every day he makes plays – that’s all he does. Those little runs, that’s what he does on a daily basis. So, that’s nothing that’s not really special, that’s really nothing new to us, at least, because we know what he could do. I’m just excited for him at this point. I know how hard he worked to get to this point, and now he got his opportunity and I hope he runs with it.”

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