ATHENS, Ga. – The sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Missouri Tigers, 27-0, Saturday under the lights on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
Graduate placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship matched his career best with four made field goals. The Bulldogs’ defense held Missouri to just 198 total yards, including 50 on the ground, and has still not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
Junior quarterback Jake Fromm finished the game 13-of-29 through the air, including two touchdowns. Graduate receiver Lawrence Cager finished with 93 receiving yards on six catches. Freshman George Pickens made five catches, finishing with a career-best two touchdowns and 67 yards.
Defensively, senior Tae Crowder led Georgia with seven total tackles, while junior Monty Rice finished with six.
“I have a lot of respect for our offense,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “That (Missouri) defense is really good; they’re big and physical. … We made more plays than they did. Our quarterback made some throws. They didn’t make explosive throws and we did.”
After forcing the Tigers to punt on their opening drive, Georgia drove the field and scored when Fromm connected with Pickens, his third touchdown of the season, on a 25-yard pass to jump on the board first, 7-0. Georgia’s scoring drive included six plays, covering 60 yards.
Georgia didn’t allow a Missouri first down in the opening quarter.
The second quarter began with a 20-yard field goal by Blankenship, adding to Georgia’s lead, 10-0. The field goal, Blankenship’s 16th of the season, punctuated a 13-play, 67-yard drive that lasted five minutes, 51 seconds.
Junior defensive back Richard LeCounte intercepted a pass from Taylor Powell and returned it 71 yards to the Missouri 18-yard line around the eight-minute mark in the second quarter. The interception was LeCounte’s second of the season. Following a rush for a loss, Blankenship came on and split the uprights on a 48-yard attempt, widening the lead to 13-0 with 6:06 left in the half. The field goal was Blankenship’s fourth from 40 or longer this season and 19th of his career.
The first half concluded with a 47-yard field goal by Blankenship to bring Georgia’s lead to 16-0 at halftime. The opening half was the eighth time Georgia has held an opponent scoreless in a half this season, the third scoreless first half.
Blankenship connected on his fourth made field goal just under the seven-minute mark in the third, this time a 29-yarder, widening the lead to 19-0.
The Bulldogs’ second touchdown came with 14:02 left in the contest when Fromm completed an 18-yard pass to Pickens. Georgia completed a two-point conversion on a pass to sophomore James Cook, bringing the Bulldogs’ tally to 27-0. The touchdown completed an 11-play, 86-yard drive by the Bulldogs.
Up next, Georgia travels to Auburn next Saturday. Kickoff on CBS is set for 3:30 p.m., EST.
*Stingy Defense Posts 3rd Shutout: The Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1 SEC) blanked Missouri 27-0 including a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. The Tigers turned it over on downs after going 76 yards on 17 plays in 7:05. Georgia came in leading the SEC in Red Zone Defense, allowing just four TDs and four field goals now in 13 trips. This was the third shutout of the year, which marks the first time since 1981 that Georgia has done that. This year, it’s been Ark. State, UK and Missouri.
Georgia started the day as the SEC leader in Total Defense (268.1 yds/game), Scoring Defense (11.4 pts/game) and Rushing Defense (77.6 yds/game). The Bulldogs held Missouri scoreless in the first half and went into the locker room with a 16-0 edge. This marked the 21st scoreless quarter Georgia has held its opponents to this year and the eighth scoreless half (third scoreless first half) that the Bulldog defense has held its opponents to in 2019.
The Tigers totaled 198 yards on 58 plays, including just 50 yards rushing. Missouri was 1-of-7 on third downs in the first half and finished 4-for-14. Also of note, the Bulldogs remain the only FBS team in the nation not to surrender a rushing touchdown. Senior Tae Crowder led Bulldog tacklers with seven stops.
*Offense Tallies 339 Yards on 67 Plays For 27 Points: Georgia scored the most points (27) since the Bulldogs thrashed Tennessee 43-14 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown and three field goals (20, 48, 47 yards) to take their 16-0 halftime lead. Behind 13-of-29 passing for 173 yards and two touchdowns to freshman George Pickens and a two-point conversion to sophomore James Cook from junior quarter Jake Fromm. Junior TB D’Andre Swift had 12 carries for 83 yards, including a 47-yard run to start the third quarter. Graduate WR Lawrence Cager finished with six catches and 93 yards before going out with a shoulder injury. Pickens finished with five catches for 67 yards and a career high two scores.
After a game that saw the Bulldogs convert 12-of-18 third downs in the win over #6 Florida, Georgia went 8-for-18 against the Tigers. On the opening Georgia drive, Fromm connected with Lawrence Cager for a 32-yard gain on a 3rd-and-6 situation. Later in the drive, Fromm sent a 25-yard rocket to George Pickens on a 3rd-and-11 situation for Pickens’ third touchdown catch of the year.
*Special Specialists: Graduate PK Rodrigo Blankenship connected on two PATs and then kicked four field goals (20, 48, 47 and 29-yards) to tie his career high (2016 @ Kentucky, 2017 vs. Missouri). He has now connected on a school record 187 consecutive PATs and is No. 2 in the SEC all-time record books by 11 kicks. Blankenship has 403 points in his career, which ranks fourth in school history and fifth in SEC history. He is 20-for-28 from 40-49 yards in his career and 5-for-7 from that distance in 2019. Freshman Dominick Blaylock started the Bulldogs’ first possession with an 18-yard punt return. This set up the Bulldogs’ six-play, 60-yard scoring drive that was the game’s first touchdown. He added another 16-yard return in the third quarter that set up a field goal.
*Series History: Georgia now has won six in a row over Missouri and leads the all-time series 8-1. This was the third shutout in the series (1960 Orange Bowl 14-0; 34-0 in 2014 in Columbia).
*Turnovers: Richard LeCounte had his second interception of the year and third of his career and returned it 71 yards to the Missouri 18. Georgia’s sixth pick of the year marked the longest INT return for the Bulldogs since Dominick Sanders went 88 yards for a touchdown at Vanderbilt. Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 48-yard field goal on the next possession. Georgia is +2 in turnover margin. The Bulldogs have scored 33 points off 10 turnovers while opponents have scored 21 points off eight Georgia miscues.
*For Starters: Jake Fromm started his 37th straight to lead the offense while graduate S J.R. Reed now leads the defense with 38 in a row. After missing five games with a foot injury, sophomore DB Tyson Campbell returned to action on special teams and on defense.
*Injury Report: Sophomore C Trey Hill went down in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Sophomore Cade Mays moved over from RG to C after the injury and junior Ben Cleveland filled in at RG. Later in the game, Mays went down and sophomore Jamaree Salyer filled in at C. Lawrence Cager injured his left shoulder at the end of the first half and did not return.
*Captains: Junior TB D’Andre Swift, senior ILB Tae Crowder and junior LG Solomon Kindley served as captains.
*Up Next: Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC) faces Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC) on the Plains next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart
On posting another shutout …
“Our defense takes a lot of pride. I’m happy with our coaching staff and they deserve a lot of credit. The kids have bought in, too, thinking, ‘You’re not running it in.’ They made some big stops on second, third, and fourth down (on the final drive). … That’s hard to do in this day and age of college football. And we don’t leave our starters in. We rotate players. If they score, they score. We take a lot of pride in our defense. … I thought the defense rose up. They played really hard during the game.”
On Georgia’s offense …
“I have a lot of respect for our offense. That (Missouri) defense is really good; they’re big and physical. … We made more plays than they did. Our quarterback made some throws. They didn’t make explosive throws and we did.”
On kicker Rodrigo Blankenship …
“Rod is so clutch, so consistent, it makes you want to rely on him. When you play good defense and have a guy who is as high percentage as he is, you take the points.”
On receiver George Pickens …
“George is a talented young man. We’ve got to continue to get him better to give him an opportunity to be explosive.”
On facing tough competition each week …
“Teams have quality players across the SEC. The best recruiting teams are in our conference. You can expect a physical game any time you play in our conference.”
On facing Auburn next week …
“I have a lot of respect for the job Gus (Malzahn) does. He has a great team that is physical. That is one of the toughest places to go and play in the country. It will be a big game, and our players have an opportunity to be at their best when their best is needed.”
Junior QB #11 Jake Fromm
On the cold being a factor…
“For us, I really don’t think it was a factor. I stayed pretty warm all game and the heaters are pretty good there on the sideline. I think the guys did a good job of still trying to play fast. Definitely, I think when it’s a little bit colder the game’s a little bit slower for the skill guys, but for us, I think it had no factor at all.”
On playing with three different centers in the game…
“That’s tough. That can kind of get on you mentally. I was a little bit worried there, but our guys did a good job. Really, we’ve been working with Cade [Mays] a little bit, and then for Jamaree [Salyer] to come in and do a really good job… Jamaree’s a lefty–unlike the other two–which is a little bit scary. I think it just comes down to work and the reps we’ve done throughout camp and throughout this fall. It’s all coming together for us.”
Sophomore DB #3 Tyson Campbell
On his adrenaline for getting back out on the field for the first time since the Arkansas State game…
“It was pumping today, it was pumping. It being a night game, just seeing the lights flashing and being back in ‘The Hedges’ in this type of environment, it was just great to be back.”
On what he adds to the secondary being back…
“A shutdown corner. That’s all I want to be: just preventing passes and punishing quarterbacks for throwing my way.”