Rapid Reaction: Turnovers help Georgia get past Missouri
Georgia’s offense didn’t do much early to contribute to a victory over Missouri on Saturday, but the Bulldogs didn’t have to this time.
Their mates on defense and special teams made most of the big plays to get a lead before the offense laid down the hammer in the second half. Georgia won 43-29 Saturday to move to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC.
The Bulldogs must feel good about their position in the SEC East after winning two conference games on the road against likely the two most-talented division opponents. Missouri fell to 3-1 and had its nine-game regular season winning streak snapped. They had won those nine games by an average of 27 points per game during that stretch, dating back to last October and its loss to Georgia in Athens.
This game wasn’t decided early, but it certainly turned Georgia’s way on some destructive early turnovers by Missouri. Georgia got a break on the first turnover. Lock had completed a pass to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam for what looked like a first down once his forward progress was stopped. But freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell stripped the ball before the whistle blew and took it back for a 64-yard score.
Georgia also benefitted from an early turnover in its first SEC game, a win Sept. 8 at South Carolina. That was when cornerback Deandre Baker intercepted a pass that led to a touchdown just 47 seconds into the game, and the Bulldogs never trailed.
The second Missouri turnover was a gift, too, and that interception couldn’t be put on Lock at all. He hit a wide open Johnathon Johnson right in the hands, but the ball bounced in the air and Tae Crowder picked it off and returned it for 43 yards. Georgia had to settle for a second straight Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to make it 13-7.
Georgia then blocked a punt and returned it for a score, which might as well be a turnover. Missouri’s protection completely collapsed and it was an easy block for Erik Stokes, who knocked it down at the 16-yard line and ran it in untouched.
It was surprising that Georgia had so much trouble throwing the ball early. After all, Missouri’s secondary is one of the worst in the country, having allowed a whopping 572 yards last week to Purdue quarterback David Blough.
Fromm struggled out of the gate. He was just 2-for-5 passing for 17 yards in the first quarter, with the bad interception on the first possession.
But later, Missouri’s secondary started to break down. On Georgia’s first drive of the second half, Riley Ridley got free and scored on a Fromm pass from 33 yards. On the next drive, Jeremiah Holloman got free and scored on a 61-yard TD pass.
After Missouri scored to keep it close at 33-21, Georgia instantly responded on the first play of the fourth quarter. Fromm hit his first big pass, a 54-yard touchdown strike to Mecole Hardman where there were no defenders around him. The score put Georgia up 40-22.
Fromm finished the day with 260 yards on 13-of-23 passing and had to play into the fourth quarter for the first time all season.
Lock’s day ended with 221 yards on 24-of-48 passing. His skill-position players let him down with the turnovers as well.
Georgia returns home to play Tennessee next week. Missouri has a week off and then travels to South Carolina on Oct. 6.