Red and Black tie in exciting G-Day game
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Red and Black tie in exciting G-Day game

G-Day 2024
Photo: UGAAA

ATHENS, Ga. — With pride and intra-squad bragging rights on the line, the Georgia football team’s Red and Black squads played a back-and-forth, entertaining G-Day Game to wrap up spring practice Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

Balls were flying all over Dooley Field as both teams passed often, particularly in the first half and the fourth quarter, leading to some big completions and key defensive stops. Late in the game, quarterback Carson Beck led the Red squad 70 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 27 seconds remaining. In the end, the scrimmage ended in a 20-20 tie after Liam Badger’s 54-yard field-goal attempt as time expired came up just short for the Black squad.

The Red offense led by Beck amassed 390 yards of offense, while the Black gained 264. With the first-team offense (Red) going against the first-team defense (Black), and the respective second units also going against one another, the Bulldogs’ present and future were on display. It was the first action in a Georgia uniform for several offseason transfers, many of whom made an immediate impact.

Kicker Peyton Woodring connected on a 42-yard field goal with 8:18 on the clock to cap a solid opening drive by Beck and the Red offense. Beck was 4-for-7 for 41 yards on the drive, Dillon Bell caught two passes for 22 yards, second-year running back Roderick Robinson II ran three times, and Florida running back transfer Trevor Etienne had a 14-yard reception.

The Black team only needed a couple of plays to answer, taking a 7-3 lead on Andrew Paul’s 1-yard run with 6:14 on the clock. The drive began with a 54-yard pass from Gunner Stockton to Anthony Evans II up the right side, to the Red 21-yard line. Two plays later, Paul rushed for 16 yards to the 1 and then scored on the next play.

On the ensuing Red possession, Etienne busted free for an 18-yard rush, and Beck hit Dominic Lovett for a 34-yard completion up the left side. But it was the Black defense that forced the first turnover of the game, with defensive lineman Mykel Williams deflecting and then intercepting a Back pass on third down at the Black 5.

Midway through the second quarter, Beck looked in top form during a 10-play touchdown drive. He fired a strike down the middle to Miami transfer wideout Colbie Young for 13 yards on third-and-10. On the next play, Beck hit tight end Lawson Luckie for 18 yards, to the Black 41. Two plays later, Beck connected with Rara Thomas for 13 yards, to the 26. Later, Lovett pulled in a 23-yard completion, followed by a 2-yard touchdown pass on the left side to Young, putting the Red ahead 10-7 with 2:22 on the clock.

With 57 seconds left in the half, after the Red defense forced a punt, Black linebacker CJ Allen stepped in front of a bullet pass from Beck for an interception near midfield. Stockton then moved the Black offense into position for Badger to boot a 38-yard field goal as time expired, tying the game 10-10 at the half.

After a fast-paced first half dominated by the offenses, the third quarter largely belonged to the defenses. A 25-yard Paul run was an offensive highlight, as was an 18-yard completion from Beck to Arian Smith on the final play of the quarter, but no points were scored. Beck and the Red team kept driving in the fourth, even converting a fourth-and-1 with a short Robinson run to the 10, before having to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Woodring, putting the Red ahead 13-10 with 6:54 to play in the game.

Stockton and the Black squad answered with a 70-yard touchdown drive that began with a 32-yard completion to Nitro Tuggle and ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass on the right side to Sacovie White, putting the Black ahead 17-13 with 4:59 remaining.

It was the Black squad with the ball, a 17-13 lead, and the chance to close out a win with a few first downs. But the Red defense didn’t let that happen, giving its offense a chance for the win.

The Red got the ball at its 25 with 2:18 remaining, needing a touchdown to take the lead. Soon, facing a fourth-and-2 at its 33, the Red turned the ball over on downs after a Beck pass was broken up by linebacker Jalen Walker. Soon after, Black kicker Liam Badger kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead with 51 seconds remaining.

Beck got another shot at leading a dramatic drive and delivered. There was a 20-yard completion to Lovett, a 39-yarder to Thomas, and an 11-yard touchdown strike to Lovett in the right corner of the end zone with 27 seconds left, tying the game 20-20.

Beck ended up 25 of 46 for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while Stockton, between his action with the Red and Black teams, completed 23 of 37 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. Lovett led all receivers with seven catches for 104 yards and the tying touchdown, with Michael Jackson III and Jaden Riddell each catching five passes for the Black squad. Etienne had four carries for 24 yards and three catches for 33, while Robinson added 24 yards on 11 carries and three receptions for 18.

The Black team’s Raylen Wilson led all defenders with eight tackles, with Dan Jackson added seven.

Georgia will kick off its 2024 season in Atlanta on Aug. 31, against Clemson in the Aflac Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bulldogs began their march to the 2021 national championship with a 10-3 win over Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, N.C.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement…
“I, as I always try to do, thank the fans. I appreciate them coming out, and I thought we had great weather today. A little windy, but considering the weather we’ve practiced in, I thought the weather conditions were awesome. Our players handled it the right way. I wanted to handle it like a game – very game-like situations. The next time we put on those uniforms, it will be for real, and we’ll be playing in Atlanta against a really good opponent. So we want to find out where we are as a team and get a lot of guys reps. We’re kind of where we got guys that have got a lot of work and a lot of reps – fifth-year and fourth-year guys – and then we’ve got about 40 guys who are in their first year. So the discrepancy between old and young is really great. I thought the defense played much better today than they did in previous scrimmages in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and running to the ball. We rushed the passer better today. The offense probably didn’t have as good of a day as maybe they’ve had in the two scrimmages, but some of that was dictated by the terms of which we scrimmaged with which was passing and loose plays, and they did a nice job handling that in the second half. Overall, I don’t evaluate things on today. I know you guys will ask questions and talk about today, but for me it was about the entire spring – 15 practices – I’m very pleased with our health coming out of it.”

On today’s performance…
“It was better in the second scrimmage than the first scrimmage, and then it was better today than the first two scrimmages. We had one delay of game, which wasn’t really the offense’s fault. We had an injured player on the field, so we slowed down and the officials kept going, but operation-wise I was very pleased. We got to use the new headset model. Both quarterbacks had headsets in and could talk to the coordinators up to 15 seconds. We had one on defense, so we were able to use three of those and get comfortable with it. Operation-wise, we put so much stress on our practice operation that the game is traditionally easy.”

#15 Carson Beck || QB || Sr.

On the come-from-behind drive to tie the game…
“Never give up. You know, that’s one of the mottos that we have here at Georgia. Have that mental toughness to keep going, have composure to keep going. Obviously, it’s a spring game so it’s not, you know, there’s no there’s no pressure. You’re just going out there, you’re playing. But I mean, if you can go out there and you know, simulate and replicate that during a game. You know, it’s good practice.”

On reloading…
“I mean every year, you know, we’re always going to produce, and you know put out that product that you know Georgia builds. We’re always going to have guys go the draft and leave, but that’s why, you know, we recruit so well. We have plenty of guys that are going to come in, be able to contribute immediately and I’m super excited about that. You know, we’ll start to get to work more throughout the summer and then into fall.”

#13 Mykel Williams || DL || Jr.

On his interception…
“It was awesome. I think that was my first time to tip one to myself. It was great to celebrate with the guys.”

On tackling RB Roderick Robinson II…
“You can’t think about it, you just have to go hit him. It’s nothing personal. He is really solid, he runs hard and tough. You just have to hit him low and keep going, keep on your feet.”

On being excited to see running backs like Roderick Robinson II and Andrew Paul this season…
“I’m extremely excited because I know that we have two very talented backs, really we have five talented backs. We just can’t wait to see those guys ball and get the rock in their hands.”

On linebackers CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson’s impact…
“We got some really good young guys at the linebacker position who are going to come in and step up and show, like those guys are doing. Those guys are huge for the team and we appreciate everything they do.”

#6 Dominic Lovett || WR || Sr.

On what spring practices mean to him…
“The spring for me, honestly, is about just getting better at something each day whether that’s catching, blocking, getting more into the playbook, conditioning. Anywhere they need me to be, I’m trying to learn that position so I can be more versatile out there on the field at all times.

On the leap he has taken this spring…
“I don’t really think about a personal leap. As long as we as a team win and make strides every day, I’m good. It’s a team sport, and it’s not really about me. My personal goals – I don’t really have any. I’m just hoping we as a team can keeping working and keep fighting. Just grow. That’s all I care about.”

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