Rapid Reaction: Georgia uses big 2nd half to race past Missouri
Georgia’s dominance of Missouri continued for yet another year.
Facing a 25th-ranked Tigers team that was out to spoil the Bulldogs’ New Year’s 6 résumé, the Bulldogs turned a 14-14 game into a blowout as they eventually cruised to an 49-14 win, their 7th straight over Mizzou and 9th in 10 all-time meetings.
JT Daniels threw 3 touchdown passes — 2 to George Pickens — with 0 interceptions, finishing a yard short of the 300-yard mark before giving way to Stetson Bennett IV in the 4th quarter. Daijun Edwards, James Cook, Kenny McIntosh and Zamir White each added scores on the ground as UGA enjoyed another solid rushing day, running for well 300 yards. White led the way with 126 yards. Edwards added a career-best 101.
It was also a masterful performance by the Georgia defense. Missouri had racked up over 600 yards of total offense in back-to-back games. It struggled to reach 200 Saturday.
And it was indeed the Dawgs’ defense that set the tone. Mizzou quarterback Connor Bazelak was picked off on the 2nd play of the afternoon by Eric Stokes, with Georgia then using 6 straight running plays to take a 7-0 lead just over 3 minutes into the contest.
After the Dawgs forced a punt, they eventually found themselves with a 3rd and 8 from the Tigers’ 37-yard line. But Daniels found Cook with a nice pass to the middle of the field, and the junior capped an 89-yard drive with a score as Georgia opened up a 14-0 edge with under 3 minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Third-down conversions were a theme on the day for the Dawgs, who at one point were 7-of-10 in that department.
Mizzou would not go quietly as it got creative on its next drive to find the scoreboard. A trick play saw wide receiver Keke Chism hit an open Messiah Swinson downfield to put the Tigers in business before Bazelak took it in untouched on a fake handoff, as they cut the margin to 14-7 1 minute into the 2nd quarter.
Things took a little of an ugly turn on Mizzou’s next drive as Bazelak’s head was struck by the knee of nose tackle Jordan Davis while going down to the ground. He was lifted for true freshman Brady Cook but returned after Georgia was forced to punt.
Missouri’s defense eventually grew into the game as it began to dial up pressure on JT Daniels, repeatedly finding leverage against the Dawgs’ offensive line. And late in the 2nd quarter, the Tigers special teams unit got involved as well as it blocked a Georgia punt deep into Bulldogs territory. With the ball at the 1, Larry Rountree III punched it in as the Tigers tied the game at 14 with 80 seconds remaining in the half.
But the Dawgs responded right before the halftime break. With 37 seconds left, Pickens made a brilliant 36-yard catch near the end zone sideline to put Georgia up 21-14 and provide some much-needed momentum heading into the locker room.
Pickens’ catch set the tone for a much more straightforward 2nd half for the Dawgs. Just over 2 minutes into the 3rd quarter, Daniels connected with the sophomore once again for a 31-yard score as the Dawgs’ lead swelled to 28-14.
Later, a 43-yard touchdown run by White, his 10th of the season, put Georgia up 35-14 with 8-and-a-half minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, and the rout was on. Edwards added his 1st career touchdown to open the 4th quarter.