Jacksonville Sports Day

SEC Recap: Top Dawgs Have Easy Time in 43-6 Win Over Missouri

ATHENS, Ga. — Stetson Bennett threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, Georgia’s offense amassed 505 total yards, and the defense was as stout as ever in the top-ranked Bulldogs’ 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia (9-0, 7-0 SEC), which clinched the SEC East Division championship last week, didn’t lead from start to finish as it has in nearly every game this season. Missouri (4-5, 1-4) struck first Saturday, taking advantage of a long punt return to go up 3-0 on a Harrison Mevis 36-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the first quarter.

It was just the second time all season that Georgia has trailed. The only other time was when Auburn took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on Oct. 9, and the Bulldogs won that game 34-10. Missouri’s lead Saturday didn’t last long, either

On Georgia’s next drive, the Bulldogs converted a third-and-10 on their 35 when Bennett fired a strike toward the sideline to Adonai Mitchell for 11 yards.

Later, facing a fourth-and-6 at the Tiger 35, the Bulldogs didn’t hesitate on the decision to go for a first down rather than attempting a long field goal. Bennett dropped back and lofted a perfect pass into the left corner of the end zone, where Arian Smith pulled it in for a 35-yard touchdown just before going out of bounds.

Georgia’s next points came on special teams, where Nolan Smith, who forced a fumble and intercepted a pass against Florida, blocked Grant McKinniss’ punt on the ensuing drive, deep in Tiger territory. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone before a Bulldog could recover it for a touchdown, resulting in a safety and a 9-3 lead with 14:12 left in the half.

Moments later, after Missouri kicked off to Georgia, Bennett hit Jermaine Burton down the left sideline for 46 yards to the 1-yard line. On second-and-goal from the 1, with defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter in as blockers, Zamir White easily ran the ball in for a touchdown and a 16-3 lead with 11:37 on the clock.

Georgia’s defense then forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs with a fourth-and-3 stop from the Bulldog 38. Missouri quarterback Tyler Macon was immediately overwhelmed with pressure from all sides and his scramble for a first down came up a few inches short.

The Georgia offense came up with a couple of big plays on the next drive: a 31-yard completion from Bennett to Kenny McIntosh, who made a great, one-handed grab, and a screen pass to Brock Bowers that the big tight end ran down to the 2. But the Bulldogs ultimately had to settle for a 20-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 19-3 lead with 5:05 to play in the quarter.

James Cook took a direct snap and ran the ball in from the 1 for Georgia’s final touchdown of the first half. Cook had a 17-yard run earlier in the drive, and on the scoring play he originally lined up wide right before a shift had him in the shotgun and Bennett out wide. His touchdown put Georgia up 26-3, with 26 unanswered points after the Tigers struck first.

Burton, who came up just short of scoring earlier in the game, took a screen pass and turned it into a 12-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, putting Georgia up 33-3.

In his first action since the Vanderbilt game on Sept. 25, JT Daniels took over at quarterback midway through the third quarter and the scoring surge continued. He completed a 7-yard pass to tight end John FitzPatrick on fourth-and-3 in Tiger territory and two plays later hit wideout Ladd McConkey for a 7-yard touchdown and a 40-3 lead.

Mizzou connected on a 42-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the game, ending Georgia’s run of unanswered points at 40. Podlesny kicked a 25-yard field goal with 2:33 to play, putting Georgia up 43-6, and in the final seconds the Bulldog defense produced a goalie stand at the 1 to keep the Tigers out of the end zone.

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt attended Saturday’s game, his first between the hedges since he and the Bulldogs parted ways in 2015. Richt, a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, called on the Dawgs before the game and was featured in several pregame videos.

During halftime, Richt was joined on the field by more than two dozen of his former players and received a commemorative game ball from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks. The crowd gave him several rousing ovations in appreciation for his 145 wins in 15 seasons, SEC championships in 2002 and 2005, and numerous other contributions to UGA and the Athens community.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year, Richt and his wife Katharyn moved back to Athens in March. Richt coached at Miami for three seasons after leaving Georgia and retired in 2018; he works as an analyst on ACC Network and was broadcasting from his Five Points home Saturday before making the short trip to the stadium where he spent so many game days in the fall.

The Bulldogs are back in action next Saturday (3:30 p.m. kickoff) when they visit Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Georgia’s final home game is Nov. 20, against Charleston Southern.

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