The Dogs’ hard-fought, fractious 23-20 win Saturday over Florida in Jacksonville left UGA fans about as gassed as Todd Gurley, but that didn’t make Georgia’s third consecutive victory in the fabled series any less sweet.
Yes, the Bulldogs took their eyes off the prize for about a quarter and a half in the second half, just as surely as Artie Lynch took his eyes off the ball on that dropped screen pass that turned into a fumbled lateral and gave the Gators the big break they needed to get them back into the game.
And with the Gator players constantly trying to provoke Georgia players into dead-ball infractions, there’s no doubt that the Bulldogs lost composure for most of the dismal third quarter.
But in the end it was another big game that ended with Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs offense killing more than 8 minutes of clock with a scrappy fourth-quarter drive that preserved a win.
I don’t know if they still give game balls to heroes of a hallowed Bulldog victory, but if they do I’d say senior split end Rhett McGowan definitely deserves one for that clutch catch on a third-and-7 play on Georgia’s final clock-killing drive when he broke a tackle and fought hard to get the much-needed first down. McGowan caught another ball for a first down earlier on that drive and also had a big reception late in the first half to set up the Marshall Morgan field goal that wound up being the Georgia’s last points for the day and the margin of victory.
Another game ball ought to go to Corey Moore for the big sack he got on Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy on a third-and-12 safety blitz (the Dogs’ fourth sack of the day), forcing a Gators punt on a drive where they had looked ready to take control of the game.
And don’t forget tailback Gurley, returning to play after a month off with an injured ankle. A 73-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter left the great Georgia running back wiped out physically, but he gamely returned to the fray in the second half, and though he was obviously running on fumes, he still managed to gut out a third-down conversion by the tip of the football on that final Georgia drive thanks to his second effort. Gurley wound up the day with 100 yards on 17 carries and three receptions for another 87 yards that make him the Dogs’ leading receiver of the day in yardage.
So, despite a strong start by Georgia in the first half, the game ended up being a lot closer than it needed to be. But having predicted the Dogs would win by less than a touchdown, I can’t say I was particularly surprised (though perhaps a bit disappointed in the way the Gators managed to flip the momentum). That’s just the nature of Georgia-Florida games.
Bottom line: Will Muschamp is still 0-fer in this series. And Murray joins John Rauch and Buck Belue in the pantheon of Georgia quarterbacks with at least three wins over that hated Gators.
Really, Bulldog Nation, isn’t that reason enough to cheer these Dawgs?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg