Rapid Reaction: Kyle Trask, Florida torch Georgia to win first Cocktail Party since 2016
The Florida Gators looked like a team headed to its first SEC Championship Game since 2016. The Georgia Bulldogs looked like a team simply struggling to keep up.
Kyle Trask threw for 4 touchdowns and 347 yards in the first half — becoming the first quarterback in SEC history to record 4 or more passing touchdowns in 5 straight games — as the Gators routed the Bulldogs 44-28 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday. The Gators ended a 3-game losing streak to the Bulldogs in the Cocktail Party, scoring their most points in the long-running series since 2009.
The day couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Georgia’s offense. On the first play from scrimmage, Zamir White took it 75 yards untouched to the end zone — his longest run before that was 26 yards — for a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. They made it 14-0 as Stetson Bennett IV hit a wide-open Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, but concern immediately shifted to the true freshman wide receiver as he sustained a terrible leg injury in the process, while Bennett appeared to sustain an injury to his right shoulder. Bennett exited briefly in favor of D’Wan Mathis but came back for the Dawgs’ next offensive possession.
Florida answered immediately, as Justin Shorter capped a 7-yard, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard grab from Trask as the Gators picked up a much-needed touchdown. They then marched down the field to level the score at 14, a drive ended by a 2-yard touchdown carry by Dameon Pierce.
Georgia’s defense, though, turned the tables on the Gators’ next drive. Eric Stokes Jr. stepped in and intercepted Trask — only the 3rd thrown by him this year — and took it 37 yards to the house as the Dawgs regained a 21-14 lead.
But Trask promptly shook it off. He had a 50-yard throw to Nay’Quan Wright and a pretty 25-yard touchdown throw to Kyle Pitts, who fought off Tyson Campbell along the right sideline to haul it in as the Gators drew level at 21.
After forcing a punt, Florida, on its next drive, took its first lead in the Cocktail Party since the 2018 game.
Trask hit Kemore Gamble in stride from 24 yards out for a 28-21 lead. The Gators’ drive took less than 2 minutes.
After forcing another punt, the Gators padded their lead on a 50-yard field goal from Evan McPherson to make it 31-21.
After a shanked punt by Jake Camarda gave Florida excellent field position, the Gators took advantage just before the half. Trevon Grimes made an acrobatic touchdown catch to stretch the lead to 38-21.
The fireworks subdued in the 2nd half, but the damage was done.
Dan Mullen finally got past Kirby Smart, Trask added to his Heisman Trophy campaign and the Gators reclaimed control of the SEC East.