The Georgia Bulldogs jumped out early on Florida behind Todd Gurley’s 151 yard first half performance and withstood a furious second half comeback by the Gators to extend their current win streak to three in Jacksonville. The final score of 23 – 20 made Aaron Murray the third Georgia quarterback to win three in a row against Florida, the first since Buck Belue’s 1981 victory tied him with Johnny Rauch.
The Dawgs drove 75 yards with the opening possession and Gurley blasted through a tackle to score from the five, the second drive took much less time as Gurley caught a short pass over the middle from Aaron Murray and 73 yards later the lead was 14. The next two possessions resulted in 49 and 27 yard field goals by Marshall Morgan, the half ended on his third kick, this one from 32 yards out.
The first half was all Georgia………the game has two halves though.
A controversial call on a dropped screen pass by Arthur Lynch turned the momentum blue and orange. The Gators put up 17 unanswered points as the vaunted Gator defense shutout the Dawgs for the final 30 minutes.
The Bulldogs had managed but one first down when Murray and the offense trotted out on the field with 8:17 remaining, every Dawg in the house knew that if the Gators got the ball back this one would be over.
Murray and the offensive line refused to lose this game; Rhett McGowan starting only the second game of his career, fought for two critical first downs after catching the ball behind the sticks; Gurley and Brendan Douglas both ran for huge first downs. A personal foul call against the Gator defense was the final blow, the Dawgs had a first down at the 13 and the Gators never touched the ball again, the offense “Finished the Drill.”
Junior receiver Michael Bennett returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a knee injury, he had five catches for 59 yards. Gurley finished the day with 100 yards rushing on 17 carries to go along with 87 yards receiving on 3 catches.
Senior nose tackle Garrison Smith had 2.5 sacks against the Gators after coming into the game with 1.5 on the year. Before this season, Smith only had a single sack. The Dawgs finished the game with four sacks. Smith tallied a career‐high nine tackles and for the fifth time this season, junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson led the Bulldogs in tackles with 11. It is the third time he has had 10+ tackles.
Georgia’s 23-20 win marked the third straight victory in the series, which is the first time since 1987-89 that Bulldogs have done that. They lead the overall series 50-40-2. In Jacksonville, Georgia is 43-37-1. Today marked only the third time since 1979 that both teams came in unranked.
The Dawgs return home to face Appalachian State in Sanford Stadium next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. WSB will televise the game.
Post Game Quotes:
Coach Mark Richt
On the win……..
“I’m thankful for the win and I’m proud of the effort from everybody. We played tremendously in the first half, then gave them some life and got their blood pumping. It could’ve turned bad, but we got some big stops on defense and the offense finished with that beautiful drive. … Any time you can get out of here with a win, it’s special.”
On Corey Moore’s sack…….
“That was a free safety blitz, kind of a sic-em blitz. When you do that, you’re exposed to a lot of things one on one. But we got there and got the big loss. It was a gutsy call and Corey finished it by making the tackle.”
On Todd Gurley……..
“He helped a little bit, didn’t he? He played so well those first couple of series. It was so good to have him back. … After his long touchdown, his stomach got to him a little bit. He was queasy. But we settled him down and he was fine after that.”
On the play that was ruled a lateral and a fumble……..
“When it happened, I thought it was a lateral quite frankly. That’s why I was screaming for them to get on the ball and then to tackle the guy. We just cut it too close. … We really were controlling the game until that play. Then everything changed. The momentum changed and they got adrenaline, they got juice. To their credit, they almost pulled it out. But to our credit, we settled down and finished the game out. It’s a beautiful thing to get into victory formation, especially here in Jacksonville.”
On staying alive in the SEC East……..
“No doubt about it, it’s good to be in a position to know we’ve still got a shot. We’ve got to continue to heal up and correct the mistakes.”
On beating Florida three consecutive years…
“It’s awesome. You always say ‘Every game is the same. Every game is the same.’ But this one is different. There’s a different feel to it. The atmosphere is different. To go out and beat these guys three years in a row, which hasn’t happened in 24 years, is just an awesome feeling.”
On the flow of the game in the second half…
“There were some key turnovers and things that we screwed up in the third quarter to give them life and get them back in the game. We can’t do that. Every week, it seems like it comes down to the very last drive. I’m proud of our guys and we kept fighting.”
On the last drive…
“I wanted the ball in my hands. It reminded me a little of last year when we were up but we needed one more drive to try to wrap it up.”
On his individual performance…
“I wanted to win. This game means a lot to me. I just wanted to give my all and play as hard as I could. I’m in tears right now. This game means that much to me. I ain’t cried in a long time. These are tears of passion for this game. It means so much to me. I’m just happy to win.”
On playing a complete game…
“We’ve got to finish. We’ve got to do a better job. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We’re doing so many self-inflicted wounds. We’ve got play better. We’ve got eliminate all these small mistakes and errors. I’m so proud of the guys. They never gave up. When it counted the most, they came through.”
On beating Florida three times during his career…
“I’m happy. To God be the glory. Without God, none of this would be possible.”
On returning to action…
“It was tough to be out but it is what it is. There’s a reason for everything. Us coming back really shows the resiliency that this team has. It’s sort of like the Clemson game when we came back after a loss and had a big win. We did the same thing this week.”
On the offense’s performance in the first half…
“I think we’re unstoppable but some times we shoot ourselves in the foot with errors. We had some drops, I had one myself, but it’s something we can clean up.”
On playing against Florida…
“Emotions were running high. There was a lot of jawing on the field. You could see that. That’s always going to be the case when it’s Georgia-Florida. You’ve got to keep your cool.”
On Aaron Murray…
“He’s a phenomenal leader and he played awesome today. He put it on me every time. Before the half, he put one on me that I wasn’t expecting. He put it in my stomach, but I barely caught it. I can’t say enough about him.”
On Georgia’s final offensive drive…
“I was definitely praying. I wanted this win pretty bad. I wanted it for the seniors. I hate losing to Florida.”
On stopping Florida with Corey Moore’s sack…
“We felt a little more at ease after that. That play sums up how we want to play as a defense. It showed our emotion and really excited us.”