Rapid Reaction: Georgia stifles Missouri to get step closer to SEC East title
Georgia’s stellar defense has carried it throughout much of this 2019 season. That was the case once more on Saturday at Sanford Stadium, as the CFP No. 6 Bulldogs frustrated the visiting Missouri Tigers to cruise to a 27-0 victory.
While several key cogs of the Georgia offense — wide receiver Lawrence Cager and offensive linemen Trey Hill, Cade Mays and Isaiah Wilson — had to exit the game it didn’t stop the defense from holding up its end of the bargain. Mizzou, playing without injured QB Kelly Bryant, was held to just under 100 yards of total offense through the first 2 quarters while being forced to punt the ball in 7 of its first 8 possessions.
The Bulldogs’ defense came out firing on all cylinders as it forced Missouri into 3 consecutive 3-and-outs to open the game. On the other side of the ball, it didn’t take Georgia’s offense long to draw first blood: a strike from Jake Fromm over the middle to George Pickens for 30 yards capped a 6-play, 60-yard drive to put the Dawgs up 7-0 just past the 4-minute mark. They did have to settle for a field goal inside of the 1st minute of the 2nd quarter to cap a nearly 6-minute drive.
What about the one time the Tigers didn’t have to punt in the first half? It appeared Missouri’s offense would finally get going on its first drive of the 2nd quarter, but Richard LeCounte grabbed a red-zone interception and took it 71 yards the other way to put the Dawgs in business at the Missouri 18.
Again, though, the Dawgs wouldn’t quite take full advantage. They would have to settle for 3 points once more with 6 minutes left in the quarter after a delay of game and a bobbled snap that Fromm would have to eat for a loss. Georgia would later add another Rodrigo Blankenship field goal at the end of the half to make it 16-0.
The 2nd half took on the same tenor as the first half. Blankenship atoned for a miss from 43 yards out early in the 3rd with a short make from 29 later in the frame, while the Tigers offense, who failed to make it past midfield the entire night outside of 2 drives, struggled to make headway against a Georgia defense that was giving up next to nothing.
The dagger came inside the 1st minute of the 4th quarter. Fromm connected with Pickens for a pretty 18-yard catch just inside the left edge of the end zone and the Bulldogs lead ballooned to 27-0 as they tacked on a 2-point conversion. If the game wasn’t basically over already, it was now. And to top it off, Pickens would have had a 3rd touchdown catch on the next drive—this one for 68 yards —but it came back on an illegal formation.
Mizzou finally found itself deep in Georgia territory facing 1st and goal at the 4 yard line with about 5 minutes left in the game, but couldn’t punch it in as the Dawgs’ defense stiffened to preserve the shutout.