Bulldogs cruise to 43-6 win over Missouri
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Bulldogs cruise to 43-6 win over Missouri

Georgia Bulldogs
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. — Stetson Bennett threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, Georgia’s offense amassed 505 total yards, and the defense was as stout as ever in the top-ranked Bulldogs’ 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia (9-0, 7-0 SEC), which clinched the SEC East Division championship last week, didn’t lead from start to finish as it has in nearly every game this season. Missouri (4-5, 1-4) struck first Saturday, taking advantage of a long punt return to go up 3-0 on a Harrison Mevis 36-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the first quarter.

It was just the second time all season that Georgia has trailed. The only other time was when Auburn took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on Oct. 9, and the Bulldogs won that game 34-10. Missouri’s lead Saturday didn’t last long, either

On Georgia’s next drive, the Bulldogs converted a third-and-10 on their 35 when Bennett fired a strike toward the sideline to Adonai Mitchell for 11 yards. Later, facing a fourth-and-6 at the Tiger 35, the Bulldogs didn’t hesitate on the decision to go for a first down rather than attempting a long field goal. Bennett dropped back and lofted a perfect pass into the left corner of the end zone, where Arian Smith pulled it in for a 35-yard touchdown just before going out of bounds.

Georgia’s next points came on special teams, where Nolan Smith, who forced a fumble and intercepted a pass against Florida, blocked Grant McKinniss’ punt on the ensuing drive, deep in Tiger territory. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone before a Bulldog could recover it for a touchdown, resulting in a safety and a 9-3 lead with 14:12 left in the half.

Moments later, after Missouri kicked off to Georgia, Bennett hit Jermaine Burton down the left sideline for 46 yards to the 1-yard line. On second-and-goal from the 1, with defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter in as blockers, Zamir White easily ran the ball in for a touchdown and a 16-3 lead with 11:37 on the clock.

Georgia’s defense then forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs with a fourth-and-3 stop from the Bulldog 38. Missouri quarterback Tyler Macon was immediately overwhelmed with pressure from all sides and his scramble for a first down came up a few inches short.

The Georgia offense came up with a couple of big plays on the next drive: a 31-yard completion from Bennett to Kenny McIntosh, who made a great, one-handed grab, and a screen pass to Brock Bowers that the big tight end ran down to the 2. But the Bulldogs ultimately had to settle for a 20-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 19-3 lead with 5:05 to play in the quarter.

James Cook took a direct snap and ran the ball in from the 1 for Georgia’s final touchdown of the first half. Cook had a 17-yard run earlier in the drive, and on the scoring play he originally lined up wide right before a shift had him in the shotgun and Bennett out wide. His touchdown put Georgia up 26-3, with 26 unanswered points after the Tigers struck first.

Burton, who came up just short of scoring earlier in the game, took a screen pass and turned it into a 12-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, putting Georgia up 33-3.

In his first action since the Vanderbilt game on Sept. 25, JT Daniels took over at quarterback midway through the third quarter and the scoring surge continued. He completed a 7-yard pass to tight end John FitzPatrick on fourth-and-3 in Tiger territory and two plays later hit wideout Ladd McConkey for a 7-yard touchdown and a 40-3 lead.

Mizzou connected on a 42-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the game, ending Georgia’s run of unanswered points at 40. Podlesny kicked a 25-yard field goal with 2:33 to play, putting Georgia up 43-6, and in the final seconds the Bulldog defense produced a goalie stand at the 1 to keep the Tigers out of the end zone.

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt attended Saturday’s game, his first between the hedges since he and the Bulldogs parted ways in 2015. Richt, a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, called on the Dawgs before the game and was featured in several pregame videos.

During halftime, Richt was joined on the field by more than two dozen of his former players and received a commemorative game ball from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks. The crowd gave him several rousing ovations in appreciation for his 145 wins in 15 seasons, SEC championships in 2002 and 2005, and numerous other contributions to UGA and the Athens community.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year, Richt and his wife Katharyn moved back to Athens in March. Richt coached at Miami for three seasons after leaving Georgia and retired in 2018; he works as an analyst on ACC Network and was broadcasting from his Five Points home Saturday before making the short trip to the stadium where he spent so many game days in the fall.

The Bulldogs are back in action next Saturday (3:30 p.m. kickoff) when they visit Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Georgia’s final home game is Nov. 20, against Charleston Southern.

POST-GAME NOTES

*Another Dominating Effort By The Defense: Top-ranked Georgia, the national leader in Scoring Defense (6.6 ppg), held Missouri to just two field goals in a 43-6 win to improve to 9-0 (7-0 SEC). Also, there was a goal-line stand that ended with three seconds left in the game when the Tigers turned it over on downs. UM came in averaging 34.8 points a game.

Georgia now has held eight of its nine opponents to their lowest scoring tally of year (USC is the exception). The 59 points allowed through nine games is the lowest in a season at this point since 1971 (53 points).

Georgia trailed for only the second time this year (@Auburn 3-0 in 1st quarter for a total of 5:29) when Missouri made a 35-yard FG with 5:50 left in the opening quarter. It was a seven play, 33-yard drive. Today, Georgia trailed for 5:08 before responding on its next drive for a 7-3 lead with 42 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Tiger RB Tyler Badie came in averaging a league-leading 123.6 ypg, and he finished with just 41 yards.

*Bennett Leads Bulldogs: Georgia senior QB Stetson Bennett (13-for-19, 255 yards, 1 TD) got the start for the fifth straight week and sixth time overall this year. He improved to 9-2 as a starter and 6-0 this year. After punting on its opening possession, Georgia had four straight scoring drives to build a 26-3 advantage. Down 3-0 in the first, the Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive of 11 plays, covering 75 yards in 5:08 that culminated with a 35-yard TD pass from Bennett to Arian Smith on 4th-and-6. It was Smith’s second TD this year and third for his career. The second half began with Bennett directing a five play, 60-yard TD drive and a 33-3 lead.

With 11:04 left in the third quarterjunioQB JT Daniels returned to action for the first time since the first quarter versus Vanderbilt on Sept. 25 due to a lat injury. He finished 7-for-11 and 82 yards, one TD and one INT. He converted a 4th-and-3 from the UM19 on a drive that ultimately ended with a 7-yard TD pass to Ladd McConkey (7 plays, 41 yards, 3:38) for a 40-3 edge.

*Ton of Targets: Nine different Bulldogs caught a pass today with four covering more than 20 yards. Sophomore Arian Smith had a 35-yarder for a TD. The longest of the first half came by sophomore Jermaine Burton for 47 yards. Junior RB Kenny McIntosh had one for 31 yards.  The leading receiver were Burton (3-for-76 yards) and AD Mitchell (3-for-38). Burton added a 12-yard TD, his third score of the year and sixth for his career to make it 33-3.

*Rushing Highlights: Georgia tallied 168 rushing yards on 32 attempts and two TDs. Senior James Cook had 41 yards on nine carries including his fourth rushing TD, this one a direct snap out of the “Wild Dawg” formation. Cook now has 11 career rushing TDs. Senior Zamir White had seven rushes for 14 yards and one TD. White now has a team-leading nine TDs this year and 23 overall. Junior Kearis Jackson had a career-long 37-yarder in the 2nd half.

*Special Teams Summary: Georgia blocked its second punt of the year, and this one resulted in a safety as the football went through the endzone. Junior Nolan Smith blocked it. This was the team’s second safety this year as the first one came by the defense versus South Carolina when Smith and Jordan Davis combined on a sack. Under Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs now have 24 defensive or special teams scores since 2016. Georgia improved to 21-1 when they register a non-offensive score in the Smart era. Senior punter Jake Camarda had one punt 44 yards. Junior Jack Podlesny went 2-for-2 on field goals (20 & 25 yards). He is 14-for-18 on field goals. He made four PATs and is now 41-for-42 in PATs this year.

*Game Captains/Starters/Coin Toss: The captains were senior Justin Shaffer (LG) and juniors Kearis Jackson (WR) and Travon Walker (DE). RS-freshman Broderick Jones made his first career start (LT), ending a streak of 19 straight by senior Jamaree Salyer who was sidelined due to an injury. Missouri won the toss and took the football.

*Series History/Up Next: With the 43-6 win, top-ranked Georgia has a 10-1 edge in the series history with the Tigers including 6-0 under Kirby Smart. During halftime, Georgia honored former football coach Mark Richt who spent 15 seasons with the Bulldogs (2001-15) and went 145-51 with a pair of SEC title and nine bowl wins.

Up next, Georgia (9-0, 7-0 SEC) heads to Tennessee on Nov. 13. Kickoff will be at 3:30 pm (CBS). The Volunteers (4-4, 2-3 SEC) face No. 18 Kentucky in Lexington tonight at 7. The Bulldogs are 9-0 for the second time in the Smart era, the other time coming in 2017.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement …
““I’d like to first thank our fans like I always do. What a tremendous atmosphere to be 12:00. It was a little chilly out there, but our fans came out and did an awesome job – helped impact the game for us. It was great to honor Coach Richt, who I have so much respect for. I got to see him and gave him a big hug there coming out for the second half and see so many guys that played for him, that care so much about him and meant so much to UGA. A lot of them I had flashbacks of back when I was a young coach, so it was really good to see them. We started out kind of sloppy today. A little bit of a lack of focus early, especially on defense. Offensively, it took us a while to get going, but once we did we
really did some nice things. I was proud of the guys. We’re starting to get some guys back, and then we lost a couple of guys who are banged up. All in all, really pleased with the guy’s effort, but we have some things we have to clean up. I will say on the Adam (Anderson) situation, everybody wants to ask questions, but with it being an ongoing legal situation in the matter, I can’t comment on it and I can’t talk about it. I can say we’re cooperating with law enforcement and campus organizations, and that’s all I can say about it.”

On Missouri’s defense…
“They played the same defense they’ve been playing. They played a little better, they changed out a couple of guys personnel‐wise, but they didn’t change their defense by any means. We didn’t run the ball real well if that’s what you’re asking. We did not do that super well. But, there was no massive change, they did max blitz a little more and took some more chances than they normally do.”

#13 Stetson Bennett | Sr. | QB

On getting explosive plays in the first half…
“I think Missouri came into this game, and their game plan was to not let us run the ball. They were popping backers and had low safeties and were trying to stop our run game. When they do that, we have to be explosive to make them back up. If they do not, that is how we score points.”

On the first touchdown pass to Arian Smith…
“Arian might be the fastest dude in the country playing football. I think they went zero (coverage) there, and it was definitely man‐to‐man. We full‐slid the protection. I just trusted him to get to a spot, and he got there and finished the play off.”

#7 Quay Walker | Sr. | LB

On the defense not being happy with giving up six points…
“That is pretty much the standard that we set before the season. Starting the game, we started out pretty slow. We gave up a pretty good amount of yards ‐‐ probably not the right technique or miscommunication, things like that.”

On the goal line stand at the end of the game…
“We’re into it a lot because it does not change if we are on the field or not. At the same time, we have a saying around here, ‘If you are on the field, you are a starter.’ No matter who it is, no matter how many games you have played, no matter how many reps you have throughout the game…It starts from us, from the leaders, no matter who it is, whoever is in the rotation. It just starts with us by keeping up the intensity, and they match it when their name is called. To answer your question, we were really in tune on the sideline as well.”

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