After clinching a spot in the SEC Championship last week against Auburn, the Georgia Bulldogs returned home on Saturday to take on in-state rival Georgia Southern.
Favored to take the win, it was the defense that was on the radar for Saturday’s game as the Bulldogs faced the threatening triple-option offense that the Eagles are known for. Analysts and fans looked to Saturday’s game as a precursor for what is to come next week against heated rival, Georgia Tech, since they also run that same offensive strategy.
With a 45-14 win and complete shutdown of the Eagle’s offense, it looks as if Georgia is definitely prepared for Tech. Georgia also earned their fifth straight win on the season.
Georgia got on the scoreboard first after a first quarter touchdown from freshman Todd Gurley with 11:21 on the clock. Holding steady for Georgia Southern’s first two drives, it looked as if the menacing Georgia defense knew exactly what to expect, helping the Bulldogs hold on to their first quarter, 7-0 lead.
However, it wouldn’t be long before the Eagles landed seven on the board, earning their first of only two touchdowns, on a one-yard rush from Jerick McKinnon with 11:53 to go in the second. The Eagles tied the game at seven.
Unable to convert on their next possession, Georgia had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Marshall Morgan to break the tie. Stopping the Eagles on their next drive, the Bulldogs churned out another big play on a spiraling, 24-yard pass from Aaron Murray to Malcolm Mitchell, giving the Bulldogs momentum at the half with a 17-7 lead.
After the half, it was pure domination on both sides from a poised Bulldog team. Putting up three quick and easy touchdowns in the third, Georgia was unstoppable rolling into the fourth, carrying a 38-7 lead. Georgia’s Chris Conley earned two of their third quarter scores, along with Tavarres King adding his touch on a 43-yard shot from an on-target Murray.
“We came in at the half and saw what they were doing and what we were doing, then made adjustments”, said Conley. “It really opened up our passing game and Aaron and the coaches were spot on from there.”
With 6:41 on the clock in the final quarter, the Eagles finally found the goal line once more. After finally finding a gap in Georgia’s sturdy defense, McKinnon broke away on a 23-yard run. Not doing much damage, the Eagles brought the score to 38-14.
But, Georgia quickly fired back three minutes later, after Parker Welch connected with Justin Scott-Wesley on a 13-yard touchdown to add another notch and a 45-14 final.
Offensively, Murray was 18-of-28 for 330-yards and no interceptions. Backing him up, Conley led the night on offense with 76-yards and two touchdowns.
On the flip side, the Georgia defense proved they can definitely handle the pressure of a fast-paced, triple-option offense. Alec Ogletree led the day with 12 tackles total and Christian Robinson added nine.
“I thought we did a really well and they only got 14 points on us”, said Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. “After the half we got some key three and outs and turnovers. We did what we needed to do defensively to win the game.”
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.