GEORGIA 36, FLORIDA 17
Jacksonville, FL – The Gators fell to the 7th ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday evening. Despite the lopsided final score, the game was actually much closer than the story told by the scoreboard. On the line for both teams, were bragging rights, the continuation of playoff hopes, and another step towards the SEC Championship Game. Georgia now holds their destiny in their own hands.
1st Quarter: Florida 0 GEORGIA 10
Georgia entered the contest as a 6.5 point favorite, a spread that would be covered but not without contention. The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, moving efficiently via the running game on their opening drive. Florida’s defense stiffened at the end of the drive and forced a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal.
On their opening play, the Gators ran a flea flicker that was there for the taking. QB Feleipe Franks found Van Jefferson behind the Georgia secondary but it sailed innocently to the turf as Jefferson slowed in his route. The next play was a quick sideline pass to Trevon Grimes that went for an 8 yard gain. Jordan Scarlett took the ensuing third down handoff for a first down before coughing it up.
Georgia recovered the fumble and returned it deep into Gators territory. Three plays later, the Bulldogs found the endzone by way of a Jake Fromm touchdown pass to Jeremiah Holloman. Midway through the first quarter the Bulldogs were in control and their fans were on fire.
The next Gators possession saw some early success moving the ball but came to an abrupt halt when Franks made a poor decision choosing the deeper, contested route over the safe and wide open check down. The pass was intercepted for the Gators second turnover in as many possessions.
The defense settled in at this point and allowed the offense to regain their composure. Todd Grantham‘s defense held Georgia to three consecutive three and outs.
Franks: 13/21 105 YDS 1 TD 1 INT
Fromm: 17/24 240 YDS 3 TD
2nd Quarter: Florida 7 Georgia 3
Taking advantage of the opportunity the defense gave them, the Gators offense marched 71 yards in 14 plays on their way to the endzone. Franks went over the top from the 1 yard line and closed the gap, making it a 10-7 game.
Throughout the second quarter, it appeared that the Gators were settling in and looking to take control. They moved the ball with relative consistency while the defense stood up to Georgia’s offensive attack again and again. It wasn’t until the final minute of the first half that the Bulldogs offense came back to life.
Tight end Isaac Nauta, caught four consecutive passes from Fromm moving the Bulldogs offense almost instantly, down to the Gators 5 yard line. Kirby Smart opted to take the safe points with just six seconds remaining in the half. Blankenship added 3 more to the scoreboard and the Bulldogs took a 13-7 lead into the locker rooms.
Perine: 14 CAR 62 YDS
Scarlett: 8 CAR 56 YDS
Swift: 12 CAR 104 YDS 1 TD
Holyfield: 20 CAR 71 YDS
3rd Quarter: Florida 7 Georgia 10
The third stanza opened with a display of fireworks for both sides. Kadarius Toney returned the opening kick all the way to the Georgia 48 yard line. A couple of plays later, Franks threw a laser over the middle to Freddie Swain for a 36 yard touchdown and the Gators first and only lead of the night.
Georgia had an answer and they replied quickly. Fromm found Holloman in the endzone for the second time of the night and the Bulldogs lead once again, 20-14.
After trading punts the Gators had the ball once again from their own 1 yard line. Franks fumbled the ball away on the quarterback keeper and the Bulldogs regained possession at the near the goal line. What ensued may have been the most impressive performance of the season for the Gators defense.
An offside penalty gave Georgia another first down and half the distance to the goal. Georgia, foiled on consecutive running plays, attempted a pass on third down. The ball fell incomplete followed by a late flag. Pass interference gave Georgia a new set of downs with the ball mere inches away from the goal line.
Expressing his displeasure, was Gators head coach Dan Mullen, who drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This coach will go to war for his players and they will battle for him.
With the new set of downs, a Georgia touchdown seemed like a foregone conclusion but this defense isn’t giving anything for free. In the end, Florida’s defense held the Georgia offense to 0 yards and a field goal on 7 plays from the goal line.
The third quarter would end with the Gators down by 9.
Swain: 2 REC 38 YDS 1 TD
Grimes: 2 REC 18 YDS
Nauta: 5 REC 73 YDS
Holloman: 4 REC 48 YDS 2 TD
4th Quarter: Florida 3 Georgia 13
Down but not out, the Gators went back to work although they would settle for a field goal. Freshman Evan McPherson hit from 42 yards out to bring the game within 6. Unfortunately, that was as close as it would get for the boys of ol’ Florida.
With just over 8 minutes remaining, Terry Godwin hauled in Fromm’s third and final touchdown of the night. With a bit over 5 minutes remaining, D’Andre Swift broke free on a 33 yard touchdown and sealed the Gators fate.
Florida had opportunities to win this game but for the first time since their uninspired performance against Kentucky, the key plays just didn’t go their way. They will rebound and still have the opportunity to make a premiere bowl game.
Despite the disappointing loss, Mullen has this team on track and will be a force to reckon with for years to come. One thing’s for sure, next year’s Cocktail Party will be fierce. The Gators will remember this loss and they will grow from it.
Time of Possession
SEC East Standings
Georgia 5-1 7-1
Kentucky 5-1 7-1
Florida 4-2 6-2
South Carolina 2-3 3-3
Tennessee 1-3 3-4
Vandy 1-4 4-5
Mizzou 0-4 4-4
*Some games may still be in progress
What’s next? Florida plays host to Mizzou for homecoming. Broadcast info will be shared later in the week.