With a second-half offensive surge, the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (7-2, 7-2 SEC) pulled away from the 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers (5-4, 5-4 SEC), 49-14, Saturday afternoon in front of 10,830 fans at Faurot Field and an SEC Network television audience.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 16-for-27 passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver George Pickens hauled in five receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore tailback Zamir White also tallied 126 yards rushing on 12 carries with a touchdown. Freshman tailback Daijun Edwards also amassed a career-high 103 yards rushing and a touchdown. For the afternoon, the Bulldogs posted 615 yards on offense, the most for the team since 656 last season against Arkansas State.
After scoring 91 points in its last two outings, the Missouri offense was held to just 200 total yards by the Georgia defense, with sophomore safety Lewis Cine leading in tackles for the second-consecutive game with four stops.
“Really proud of our team, proud of our seniors, proud of our leadership, proud of our staff, and proud of our support staff,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “It was some really tough conditions to play in today, and it just goes to show you that not everybody across the country loves football the way the kids do, especially in our conference. But they love it and they love it at Georgia. The leaders on this team said they wanted to play well and they practiced really hard this week.”
The Georgia defense immediately made its mark as junior cornerback Eric Stokes intercepted Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak on the Tigers’ second play from scrimmage, returning his fourth pick of the season 27 yards to the Missouri 23-yard line. With outstanding field position, the Bulldogs ran six consecutive times, culminating in sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh’s 2-yard scoring rush, his first of the season, wrapping up a 6-play, 23-yard drive.
After forcing a Missouri punt, the Georgia run game continued to excel as White and junior tailback James Cook notched consecutive long rushes. Cook added to the Bulldogs’ lead with a 37-yard catch-and-run touchdown on third-and-8, bringing the score to 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. Cook’s scamper finished off an 8-play, 89-yard sequence that bled over four minutes off the clock. Throughout the day, Georgia was impressive on third down, finishing 8-for-13 in the game.
Missouri answered on its ensuing possession as a 29-yard trick play reception in Georgia territory set up a 2-yard touchdown run from Bazelak. For much of the second quarter, both teams struggled offensively, but the Tigers’ special teams came up with a critical play late, blocking a Jake Camarda punt and returning it to the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line. After two Georgia goal line stops, tailback Larry Rountree broke through the line for a score, tying the game at 14 with just over a minute before halftime.
In need of a response, Daniels and the Georgia passing game came through, quickly moving down the field with three straight long completions, culminating in a terrific 36-yard touchdown catch by Pickens. Using only 43 seconds, the 6-play, 75-yard sequence helped give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead entering the locker room.
The Georgia offense carried the momentum into the second half, beginning with a 36-yard White rush into Missouri territory. Three plays later, Daniels again found Pickens for a 31-yard touchdown reception, extending the lead to two scores following the 5-play, 75-yard drive. After the Tigers stalled near midfield, the Bulldogs broke the game open as White took off for a 43-yard touchdown rush, making it 35-14 following a 6-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
On the ensuing Georgia possession, a 36-yard completion from Daniels to freshman tight end Darnell Washington set up Cook’s second touchdown of the day, a 9-yard rush that finished a 4-play, 71-yard drive. Edwards would then wrap up the Bulldogs’ scoring for the day with a 6-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter, becoming the fourth different Georgia runner to score in the contest. Edwards’ rush completed a 10-play, 79-yard drive.
Junior quarterback Stetson Bennett entered for Georgia on its penultimate drive, marking his first action since the Florida game on Nov. 7. A 47-yard rush from Edwards set up the Bulldogs again in scoring position, but redshirt sophomore place kicker Jack Podlesny missed a field goal attempt from 43 yards out. Freshman quarterback Carson Beck made his Georgia debut on the game’s final drive as the Bulldogs sought to run out the clock.
Georgia will return home next weekend for its season finale against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Dec. 19 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game against the Commodores is set for a noon kickoff with television coverage to be determined at a later date.