The Bulldawg Nation had to rub their eyes in disbelief in the annual homecoming game at Sanford Stadium as they watched the 30-point underdog Missouri Tigers put three first-half touchdowns on the scoreboard to gain a 21-21 with Georgia early in the second quarter.
And two of the Missouri scores came on identical 63-yard passes from quarterback Drew Lock to Emanuel Hall, who twice ran wide open behind the Bulldog secondary. Truly, this was something that hadn’t happened all season against Georgia’s proud defensive unit.
But, that was just in the first half. The happy flip side of the story for Bulldog fans was the powerful performance of the Georgia offense, which exploded for 53 points and enabled the unbeaten Dawgs to rout the Tigers by 53-28 on a night when the Bulldogs almost matched the single-game school record for total offense, by totaling a whopping 696 yards running and passing combined. And, too, after being jolted by Mizzou’s long scores in the first half, the UGA defense reverted to its usual stingy play in the final two periods, limiting the Tigers to only one additional score.
As the 7-0 Bulldogs now prepare for the Oct. 28 confrontation with Florida in Jacksonville, many of the Stats That Matter for the Missouri game are truly eye-popping.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
Are you ready for this one? In this offensive barrage by Georgia, the Bulldogs had, count ’em, no less than 11 plays that went for 20 yards or more … easily the most explosive performance of the 2017 season thus far. In the first half, freshman Jake Fromm had passes of 21 and 30 yards to Javon Wims and a 28-yard strike to Terry Godwin. Also, Mecole Hardman ignited his best performance in a Georgia uniform by running 35 yards for a touchdown on the jet sweep. In the second half, Fromm continued to enjoy the biggest passing game of his young UGA career by completing passes of 22 yards to Riley Ridley, 50 yards to freshman tight end Charlie Woerner and 59 yards to Hardman, who turned a short catch into a brilliant touchdown dash. And too, the Bulldogs got a sparkling 71-yard run from freshman D’Andre Swift, a 36-yard touchdown run from Sony Michel, a 20-yard burst from Nick Chubb and, finally, a 21-yard run from fifth-string tailback Elijah Holyfield. Defensively, the Bulldogs surrendered the two 63-yard Lock-to-Hall touchdown passes, a Lock-to-Jason Reese 27-yard scoring pass and another 26-yard Lock completion.
(TURNOVERS, PENALTIES, CLOCK MANAGEMENT MISCUES, ETC)
While throwing for a career-high 326 yards and the two touchdowns and scoring one himself, Fromm did have a costly interception in the opening quarter, which led to the Tigers’ first touchdown. And the Bulldogs had eight nagging penalties for 42 yards. A number of them were false start infractions which stymied a drive’s momentum; wide receiver Ridley was tagged for a costly block-in-the-back, and especially damaging was an illegal motion penalty against tailback Brian Herrien, which nullified a 36-yard third quarter run by Swift. And there was an illegal substitution penalty against the UGA staff.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
Rod Blankenship had eight of his 10 kickoffs sail out of the end zone for touchbacks but when his opening kick of the game came up short at the MU 10, Larry Rountree ran the ball back through the middle of the Bulldogs’ coverage team, to right at midfield. Otherwise, Georgia’s special teams were solid as Blankenship was four-of-four on field goals and Cameron Nizialek, in his only punt of the night, boomed the ball 55 yards. And Hardman ran three kickoffs back for a total of 66 yards.
The Bulldog defense was again ultra-stout and sure tackling against the run, limiting the Tigers to just 59 yards on 24 carries. It was the lapses in pass coverage that damaged Georgia the most on this night.
Neither team lost a fumble and each managed an interception, the Tigers picking off Fromm in the first period and Georgia safety Dominique Sanders intercepting Lock in the second and in the process setting a new UGA record for career interception return yardage with 329, surpassing Jake Scott’s 315 total, which was set in just two years.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE/DEFENSE)
The Bulldogs ran their season record in this area to a perfect 29-for-29 by scoring on all six trips inside the Missouri 20, via three touchdowns and three field goals. Scoring primarily from long range, the Tigers tallied a touchdown in their only trip inside the red zone.
Georgia was also excellent in this category, notching 13 first downs on 18 third-down attempts. The Tigers, meanwhile, could go only 6-of-14 in third-down conversions.
RUN/PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
Big, big numbers here for the Bulldogs as Georgia ran 77 total plays for the 696 yards of offense, second only to the record 713 figure the 2012 Bulldogs compiled against Florida Atlantic. So, yes indeed, it was the most yards Georgia ever compiled against an SEC opponent. The Dawgs rushed for 370 yards and Fromm passed for his 326, on 18-of-26 completions. Missouri ran 49 plays for 312 yards with 253 of that being through the air.
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