STATS THAT MATTER: A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and Auburn

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STATS THAT MATTER: A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and Auburn

UGA tight end Eli Wolf (17), 
Georgia vs. Auburn third quarter, Saturday, November 16, 2019
UGA tight end Eli Wolf (17),
Georgia vs. Auburn third quarter, Saturday, November 16, 2019

AUBURN, Ala. – The Auburn Tigers finally came to life in the final quarter of Saturday’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium when they tallied two touchdowns against the Georgia defensive unit. Only thing is, the home team was down 21-0 before it got on the scoreboard and couldn’t catch up in a 21-14 setback to the 4th-ranked Bulldogs.

Building that three-touchdown lead after three quarters on the strength of three Jake Fromm touchdown passes … 51 yards to freshman Dominick Blaylock, 5 yards to Brian Herrien and 5 yards to Eli Wolf … the Georgia defense yielded the two scoring drives to the Tigers’ hurry-up offense but then blanked Auburn and quarterback Bo Nix on their final two possessions to capture the Bulldogs’ third consecutive SEC East title and punch their ticket to the Dec. 7 SEC Championship Game.

But first, before facing likely SEC West champion LSU at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Georgia will cap its home season Saturday against Texas A&M and then meet state rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Nov. 30.

PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

Not but a couple here for the Bulldogs. Jake Fromm had the first-quarter 51-yard touchdown strike to freshman Dominick Blaylock, and D’Andre Swift reeled off a key 26-yard run on Georgia’s second touchdown drive just before the end of the first half. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, en route to 245 yards passing, had completions of 28, 25 and 24 yards.

UNTIMELY MISTAKES

Too many here, which if this had been a back-and-forth game, could have proved costly to the Bulldogs. There were several delay-of-game penalties, a personal foul that was then ruled a targeting infraction on sophomore safety Otis Reece, two false starts on Channing Tindall on special teams, a personal foul penalty on Tyler Simmons on a UGA punt and a pass interference call on Eric Stokes as the Bulldogs were assessed seven penalties for 56 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES

The big win for the Bulldogs on special teams was the punting of Jake Camarda. The sophomore turned in his best performance of the season by averaging 50.7 yards on a whopping 11 punts. He kicked the Tigers dead inside their own 20-yard line four times with his first punt of the night sailing 67 yards, to the Auburn 2-yard line. Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t called upon for any field goal attempts but booted all four of his kickoffs out of the end zone and was true on his three extra-point kicks. The Bulldogs’ punt coverage team did allow Auburn’s Christian Tutt to return three kicks for 43 yards.

MISSED TACKLES

Although limiting the Tigers to just 84 yards net rushing, the Georgia defenders did allow Auburn running backs, and receivers too, to slip away from first hits and convert first-down yardage. But, of course, the Bulldog defense had a shutout working for three quarters before Nix marched the Tigers for the two fourth-period scores.

TURNOVERS (GAINED/LOST)

The only turnover in the game was when outside linebacker Jermaine Johnson separated Auburn QB Nix from the football and safety Richard LeCounte recovered for the Bulldogs.

RED ZONE (OFFENSE, DEFENSE)

Both teams were two-for-two after moving into the red zone, with both the Bulldogs and Tigers tallying touchdowns. One of Auburn’s TDs being a short scamper by Bo Nix, which was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Georgia D this season.

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS

The Bulldogs had far too many three and outs, even against a tenacious Auburn defensive unit. Thus, Georgia was a poor 3-of-15 in converting third-down opportunities, while the Tigers were a bit better with a 5-for-18 showing. But the Bulldogs did stop Auburn on three of its four fourth-down chances.

RUN, PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)

The Bulldogs ran the ball 36 times for 141 yards and passed it 28 times, completing 13 for 110 yards. That’s 64 total plays for 251 yards of offense. Auburn ran a staggering 86 plays, most ever by an opposing team against a Kirby Smart-coached team, and totaled 329 yards of offense. While the Bulldogs did check the Tigers to just that 84 yards net rushing on 36 attempts, Nix did have the 245 passing, throwing the ball 50 times and completing 30 of them.

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.