Georgia football: Dawgs defeat Florida in emphatic rivalry victory

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Georgia football defeated Florida 36-17 yesterday. Jake Fromm tossed three touchdown passes in a major bounce back game.

Georgia football was overrated. Jake Fromm had been exposed. Justin Fields needed to begin taking over the offense. The defense is soft. The Dawgs aren’t good enough this year.

All talking points that were shot down Saturday in Jacksonville. The Georgia Bulldogs, despite a shaky second and early third quarter, ran away with a 36-17 victory over the Florida Gators. In the process, setting up a de facto SEC East Championship Game with Kentucky next Saturday.

Georgia proved they’re not overrated, by taking a top 10 team to the woodshed. Jake Fromm showed that he’s better than his performance in LSU with 17 completions on 24 attempts, with 240 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. Justin Fields talk was quieted in the process. The defense, though they bent a lot, especially on the ground, rarely broke and played well enough for the team to cruise to a victory. And the Dawgs showed that they may not be as good as last year’s team, but at their best they’re still one of the best teams in the nation.

First half

The Dawgs had a rare offensive start and almost made the most of it. Staring from the 25, Georgia moved 71 yards, mostly on the ground, and drained almost seven minutes off the clock in the process. However, a sack on a play where Fromm didn’t even had time to react spoiled Georgia’s momentum. They settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

That lead was quickly expanded to 10 points after a fumble on Florida’s third play from scrimmage. Richard LeCounte picked up the fumble and ran down to the 13-yard-line. Fromm hit a wide open J.J. Holloman in the end zone for a touchdown. That score happened on third-and-12. Or as Georgia fans like to say in any game with Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator, third-and-Grantham.

The Gators defense improved after that, despite the offense giving the ball away again with a Tyrique McGhee interception. Florida finally got in the board midway through the second quarter with a long, run heavy touchdown drive. Though they were helped out by an unnecessary pass interference call.

Both defenses dominated the rest of the first half until Georgia went up-tempo with 50 seconds remaining on the clock. Isaac Nauta shined brightest on that drive with four catches for 66 yards. But Georgia inexplicably settled for a field goal despite having time to run one more offensive play. Regardless, the Dawgs led Florida 13-7 at halftime.

Third quarter

Georgia began the second half with a disaster. Rodrigo Blankenship didn’t kick a touchback and the Gators returned the kick to Georgia’s 48-yard-line. They scored on a long pass three plays later to take a 14-13 lead. But more importantly, it put Georgia and their fans in a familiar situation, losing to Florida in the second half. It goes without saying that Florida has dominated Georgia since 1990. For the Bulldog Nation, that touchdown was a big uh oh. Because of familiarity, the score was likely a big “ooh yeah” for the Gators.

But that history may have spoiled Florida, because what proceeded was an “uh oh” for them. Instead of surrendering all momentum, Georgia drove right down Florida’s throats again, staring with three positive runs by Elijah Holyfield. Charlie Woerner had a 35-yard-catch, and D’Andre Swift got involved with a couple of runs. But third-and-Grantham came again, and Holloman came up big again. He caught a 12-yard fade from Fromm to score and take a 20-14 lead.

Both teams traded punts on their succeeding drives, but Georgia’s was more potent. Jake Camarda kicked a short bouncer that went straight to Mecole Hardman who was standing inside the one-yard-line. McGhee forced a fumble on Florida’s first play and the Dawgs took over. However, Georgia failed to score a touchdown with six tries. Though one quarterback sneak maybe should have been reviewed. Blankenship chipped in a field goal to stretch the lead to 23-14.

Fourth quarter

Florida still had some fight left in them with 28 yards on the first three plays of their next drive. They decided to go deep on first down and they had a receiver wide open. But Tyson Campbell prevented the score and the catch by tackling the receiver before the ball got to him. That is of course a pass interference penalty. But this isn’t the NFL, and pass interference isn’t a spot foul penalty. Instead of moving up to the one-yard-line, Florida settled for the Georgia 32-yard-line.

The Dawg defense hunkered down and forced Florida to kick a field goal. Instead of surrendering the lead, Georgia stayed ahead 23-14. The rest of the night belonged to the Dawgs.

Third-and-Grantham struck again with a 15-yard-pass to Holloman. Who is apparently a big fan of third-and-Grantham jokes, seeing as he was the punch line to three against the Gators. Swift busted off a 21-yard-run soon after before another touchdown on third-and-Grantham. This time a 24-yarder to Terry Godwin. Georgia led 29-17 after a failed two-point-conversion.

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Georgia’s defense stuffed Florida on their next possession, moving the Gators back five yards. The offense had two more third-and-Grantham’s in them, on this drive. First a 22-yard-pass to Riley Ridley, and they finished with a 33-yard backbreaking sprint to the end zone by Swift. That set the score a 36-17 and Florida fans began leaving the Gator Bowl by the bunches.