SOUTH BEND, IND. – No matter it seemed like the Bulldogs had a jillion penalties. No matter that the offense – as head coach Kirby Smart noted – ran hot and cold over the four quarters of play. All that mattered, in the end, Saturday night at famed Notre Dame Stadium was, this: Georgia 20, Notre Dame Fighting Irish 19.
Overcoming 12 penalties for a total of 127 yards, along with an interception and lost fumble by quarterback Jake Fromm that marred an otherwise poised first starting performance by the freshman signal-caller, the now 2-0 Bulldogs fell back on a sterling showing by the Georgia defense to go 2-0 alltime against the Irish.
Now, as the Bulldogs make ready for the Samford Bulldogs this coming Saturday, let’s look at the weekly Stats That Matter, which will again show why Georgia escaped South Bend with the one-point victory and also why this game was as close as it was.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
The Bulldogs, in the first half, got a 30-yard run by Nick Chubb and a 31-yard pass completion from Fromm to Terry Godwin. In the second half, freshman tailback D’Andre Swift ripped off a 40 yard run that set up Sony Michel’s 6-yard scoring run. And it was a clutch 31-yard pass from Fromm to Javon Wims to the Notre Dame 17 that set up Rod Blankenship’s eventual game-winning 30-yard field goal, with just 3:34 remaining.
(TURNOVERS, PENALTIES, CLOCK MANAGEMENT MISCUES, ETC)
The Bulldogs committed four crushing 15- yard penalties in the game’s first five minutes and it didn’t stop there as Georgia was tagged the 12 times in this game to go over the century mark in total yards penalized, something Smart said simply can’t continue in future games. The Bulldogs had the lost fumble and interception of Fromm but hits by Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy caused the Irish to cough the ball up twice, one of which Carter himself recovered when he stripped Brandon Wimbush of the football.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
The Bulldogs, for the most part, had excellent kick coverage, Blankenship made two of his three field goal attempts, from 27 and 30 yards, and Cameron Nizialek again punted well, averaging 44 yards on eight kicks. Mecole Hardman had a 28-yard punt return and kickoff returns of 38 and 25 yards while Elijah Holyfield brought a kickoff back 24 yards in addition to the long kick return inside the ND 5 that was nullified by a holding call on the Bulldogs.
The Georgia defense was simply superb in this area, stopping the Irish running backs to the tune of 55 yards on 37 carries and bringing the heat on Notre Dame quarterback Wimbush the evening long.
Georgia fumbled the ball once and lost it and Fromm had just the one interception while completing 16-of-29 attempts for 141 yards and the 5-yard touchdown to Terry Godwin, who made a sensational one-handed catch and kept his feet in bounds on the right side of the end zone. The Irish fumbled three times and lost two of them.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE/DEFENSE)
For the second consecutive week, the Bulldogs were a perfect 4-of-4 scoring inside the red zone while Notre Dame also cashed points in all three of its thrusts inside the Georgia 20, although only one of those excursions resulted in a touchdown.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
This was one of the areas that didn’t go right for the Georgia offense. The Bulldogs converted only 4-of-17 third down attempts while the Irish were even worse with a 3-of-17 showing against the rugged Georgia defense.
RUN/PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
The Bulldogs ran the ball 43 times for 185 yards, with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb going for 73 and 63 yards, respectively, and as mentioned Fromm put the ball up 29 times and completed 16 for the 141 yards. So, in total, Georgia ran 72 plays for 326 yards. Notre Dame, conversely, was limited to 265 yards running and passing combined on 77 attempts by the gang-tackling Bulldog defenders.
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