Defense shines, Dawgs top Tech 13-7
ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia’s defense shut down the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense for most of the game, limiting the home squad to seven points and 276 yards en route to a 13-7 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. The Bulldogs fell 3:24 short of registering their first shutout of Georgia Tech (3-9, 1-7) since 1964.
Offensively, Sony Michel surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season, finishing with 149 yards on 24 carries, leading the Bulldogs to their 13th win over their in-state rival in the past 15 tries. Georgia (9-3, 5-3) has not lost in Atlanta since an overtime defeat in 1999. Greyson Lambert finished the game 18-of-25 passing for 224 yards, and freshman Terry Godwin led the way for the receivers with a career-high eight catches for 78 yards, including a long of 30.
Much of the game was dominated by the visiting team as the Bulldogs held Georgia Tech to 276 yards of offense and just 2-of-13 on third down. Georgia out-possessed its run-heavy opponent by a 31:18-to-28:42 margin and forced three turnovers in the contest. Safety Dominick Sanders reeled in his fifth interception of the year and set the school record for interception return yards in a season with 205.
The Dawgs came out swinging, punching in a touchdown to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive to start the game that was punctuated by a Michel 34-yard scamper on 4th and 2. Lambert was a perfect 4-for-4 on the drive as well as Georgia jumped on top 7-0 less than five minutes into the game.
The story for Georgia then shifted to the defense, as coach Jeremy Pruitt’s unit came up big on back-to-back drives, pinning its ears back in key situations. James DeLoach first broke through for a tackle for loss on 4th-and-short for Tech on the Georgia side of the 50, then it was Sanders hauling in an interception at the goal line on the following possession to keep the Yellow Jackets off the board. Tech was held scoreless in the first half for the first time since 2008 and limited to only 145 total yards.
It was more of the same to open the third quarter, as the Bulldogs forced a fumble as Tech entered UGA territory, and DeLoach came up with the ball to take over. The offense, sparked by a 22-yard screen to Michel, marched down to the field and cashed in with a 19-yard field goal to build on the lead to 10-0. The Bulldogs got a big boost that drive from the legs of Keith Marshall, who pounded the Georgia Tech defense on the ground to the tune of 28 yards on three carries.
After a missed 55-yarder from the home team, the Bulldogs added on with a drive that started in the final minute of the third with a 33-yard gallop down the middle by Michel. Marshall Morgan’s 37-yard kick split the uprights at 14:10 of the final quarter, and the Dawgs went up 13-0.
The defense held strong in the fourth quarter until a late drive that was aided by an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Bulldogs on a third down. Two plays later, the Yellow Jackets hit pay dirt on a flag route to cut the Georgia lead to 13-7. The offense stepped up, immediately cashing in for a 25-yard pass from Lambert to Jeb Blazevich after taking over on the 7-yard line. They also tallied another first down on a long run from Michel on a counter play, enabling them to run the game clock down to 0:28 before punting the ball back to the Yellow Jackets, who tossed an interception on the last play of the game.
Georgia finishes the regular season 9-3 and will await a bowl invitation. Stay current with Georgia football by following the team on Twitter (@FootballUGA) and by checking in to georgiadogs.com.
*Bulldogs Win In Atlanta Again: With today’s 13-7 victory, Georgia reclaims the Governor’s Cup Trophy and extends its advantage in the series 65-38-5. The Bulldogs are 13-2 against Tech under Mark Richt including 8-0 in Atlanta. Under Richt, Georgia is 60-11 against teams from the outside SEC including 18-9 on the road.
*Defense Dominates: For the first time this season, Georgia pitched a shutout in the first half, and it was the first time that Tech has been shutout through the first two periods. Overall, Tech was held to a season-low 7 points today and had just 194 yards on the ground after averaging 31 points/game and 261 rushing yards/game. In the first half, Tech was held to 145 total yards, all on the ground and was 0-for-3 passing. Tech didn’t score until 3:24 left in the contest that made it 13-7. Senior LB Jake Ganus led all tacklers with 12 stops.
*Win The Toss, Take The Football And Score A TD: For the second straight week, Georgia won the coin toss, elected to take the football and went on to score a touchdown. Today, the Bulldogs went 75 yards on eight plays in 4:41 capped by a 34-yard run by Sony Michel. Last week against Ga. Southern, the Bulldogs went 61 yards on seven plays in 3:58, culminating in a 23-yard TD run by sophomore Isaiah McKenzie.
*Sanders Sets Interception Return Yard Record: Sophomore Dominick Sanders set a school record for interception return yards in a season following his team-leading fifth pick. His 22-yard return gave him 205 yards for the year, breaking the previous mark of 189 by Eli Maricich in 1948 on eight INTs. Sander has eight career interceptions for 269 yards and that yardage already ranks fourth in school history.
*Michel Joins 1,000-Yard Club: Sophomore TB Sony Michel became the 13th Bulldog in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season after he finished with 149 yards on 24 carries (6.2 avg). He went over the mark with a four-yard rush in the 3rd quarter. Michel had a 34-yard touchdown scamper on 4th and one on Georgia’s opening drive of the game. It was his longest run since a 45-yarder against Kentucky on Nov. 7. Also today, Michel had three catches for 38 yards to give him 187 all-purpose yards.
*Big Afternoon For Godwin: Freshman Terry Godwin compiled eight catches for 78 yards, both career highs today. His previous career high was six catches for 78 yards in the win over Missouri on Oct. 17. Godwin also served as the punt returner but had no return yards. Junior QB Greyson Lambert finished 18-for-25 for 224 yards directing the offense and completed passes to six different Bulldogs.
*Morgan Eclipses 400 Career Points: With two field goals and a PAT today, senior PK Marshall Morgan tallied seven points to give him 403 for his career, which ranks third in SEC and Bulldog history. He finished two-for-three today (made from 19 and 37, missed from 40). In his career, Morgan is 63-for-83 in field goals and has an SEC record 214 PATs.
*For Starters: Freshman inside linebacker Natrez Patrick made his first career start. He became the 22nd first-time starter this year. He was credited with a career-high four tackles, one sack and 2 TFL
*Fourth Down Attempts: Georgia was 1-for-2 on fourth downs in the first half and 0-for-1in 2nd Half. The first one came on a 4th-and- 1 from the Tech 34 that resulted in a 34-yard touchdown run by sophomore TB Sony Michel. The second attempt failed on a 4th-and 1 at the Tech 12 as senior FB Quayvon Hicks was stopped for no gain. Tech was 1-for-2. They had a 4th-and-1 attempt at the UGA 41 resulted in a two-yard loss on a tackle made by Bulldog senior DT James DeLoach. However on 4th-and-3 from the UGA 35, Georgia was flagged for offsides to give Tech a first down. In the second half, Tech was 1-for-1 on 4th downs. Georgia came in to today’s game 4-for-9 (44%) on 4th downs while opponents were 8-for-17 (47%) against the Bulldogs.
*Points Off Turnovers: Georgia got three points off three turnovers. For the year, Georgia is +3 in Turnover Margin. In the first half, Dominick Sanders notched his team-leading fifth interception and returned it 22 yards to the Tech 23 to thwart a scoring opportunity. The Bulldogs eventually were forced to punt. In the 3rd quarter, sophomore Lorenzo Carter forced a fumble, and it was recovered by senior DT James DeLoach at the UGA 33. It led to a 19-yard field goal by senior Marshall Morgan and a 10-0 edge with 5:55 left in the 3rd quarter. The game ended with junior Quincy Mauger registered an interception.
*Up Next: Georgia (9-3) will learn its bowl destination on Dec. 6. Georgia has extended its school record streak to 18 straight seasons of going to a bowl and that’s the second longest streak nationally (Va. Tech, 23).
GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK RICHT
“It was a great victory. I’m proud of our players, first and foremost. It was a great team effort. Our coaches did a wonderful job. Our fan base showed up in big numbers.
“I want to credit to Coach Johnson and his team. They battled. Both teams battled well. It was kind of a typical game that we play. I guess it’s nine out of 12, a touchdown or less. I know the last 12 games have been close. That’s kind of how it goes, but you’ve got to keep persevering until the end, which we did.”
On the play to begin the final possession from your own 7…
“It was basically the same play in which we were hitting out fullback out in the fl at. That’s the one you hope pops there when you’re geared to stop the run. The fullback takes an angle like he’s going to block the power, and he slips out in the fl at. I think we hit him a couple of times. One time we hit Malcolm [Mitchell] on a crossing route … same play but it went to the third progession which is Malcolm. This particular ball that went downfield was our second progression to our tight end. Apparently they jumped the fullback in the fl at and he got open. It was a huge play, no doubt. But it’s a relatively safe play; you don’t want to get to crazy. It was a great call and good execution.”
Any thoughts on not getting the shutout after the unsportsmanlike penalty was called
“That (Georgia player’s motion which drew the penalty) does signify incomplete pass, but it also signifies our punt safe – it was fourth and seven – on our sideline just to make sure they don’t go on the field if in fact they punt. I don’t know that they would have punted, but you’ve got to get it communicated so you don’t have 12 on the field or some kind of other mishap. We were out of timeouts. I guess ‘no comment’ is the best comment right now.”
It seemed like you dominated in so many ways, are you a little aggravated it was so close
“I’m not aggravated at all, I’m happy. Any victory is a great victory, especially when it’s your in-state rival. I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to watch it. I’ll probably be a college football fan tonight and watch a lot of other coaches sweat it out. I can’t get frustrated with what happened. I can only be happy that we won and be proud of our guys, not just today, but over the last month. It’s been pretty neat.”
What do you make of the regular season
“We came up short of our goal to get to Atlanta and try to go beyond. We all know that. That’s the standard here, to win the SEC. But when you also look at a team that was in the position we were in, everybody came together. It certainly could have gone one way or the other. It was that moment of truth where you ask, ‘what are you going to do?’ Lay down and die or lock arms and get after it. They did.”
GEORGIA PLAYER QUOTES
TB SONY MICHEL
On his TD run…
“It was a great call and there was great blocking. The hole was there and there wasn’t much I had to do. It was a great play call.”
On winning four straight games…
“This team keeps fighting. That’s who we are. We are going to keep fighting and finish the drill. That’s one of our slogans and we are going to stick to it. Going into the bowl game we are going to try to finish strong.”
On the season…
“We had some ups and downs and fought through a lot of adversity. We are a team that knows what adversity feels like and looks like, so we have to expect it every time we step on the field.”
OLB JORDAN JENKINS
On the season…
“It had some twists and turns. This was the first season that I missed a game due to an injury. It was a great ride with my friends and my teammates and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
On Georgia’s defense this season…
“It shows the amount of work we put in in the offseason. We saw how the previous season went where the offense had to bail us out of some games, and wanted to be a defense that didn’t have to rely on the offense to help us win. We wanted to carry our own load and alleviate some pressure from the offense, and I think we did that at times throughout the season.”
ILB JAKE GANUS
On the defense…
“I thought we played lights out all game, and I’m proud of the way we fought. That’s a tough offense to stop, and it’s not an easy offense to defend. They keep pounding and keep running, so you have to be disciplined. We did a great job of adjusting and making plays.”
On the improvement of the Georgia defense…
“I think we are a lot better. Our biggest thing has been to get better every week and we’ve done that. We are playing some good ball. That Tech offense is tough to stop. We got three turnovers and a couple of fourth down stops, and that was huge.”
On Georgia’s adjustments at halftime…
“They do a lot of tough things, and they were running a counter play, but we made some second half adjustments. We were able to set the edge and get some stops. Overall I think we did a good job of containing them.”