Georgia football got off to an impressive start against Florida, building a 28-3 halftime lead.
The Bulldog offense has been able to get off to a quick start, something many members of the team have emphasized in recent weeks. The defense also looked strong early, limiting Florida’s running game and quarterback Anthony Richardson.
At the start of the second half, the Bulldogs appeared to be firmly in control, but the tide turned quickly in the third quarter.
The Gators battled back with 17 unanswered points to cut into the halftime deficit, aided by two Georgia turnovers and poor coverage by the Bulldog defense. With 3:31 left in the third quarter, it was suddenly 28-20 after Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Xzavier Henderson.
From there, Georgia responded, scoring on its next two possessions and holding Florida to a scoreless goal in the fourth quarter.
Georgia went 78 yards in six plays on its first drive after Florida’s long touchdown. Daijun Edwards had runs of 22 and 20 yards on possessions, and Kenny McIntosh added two runs for 19 yards.
“That was probably the best ride of the year so far,” Smart said. They answered the bell. It’s 28:20 and we’ve lost momentum. We had 3 kickoff returns in a row and didn’t get field position and Kenny [McIntosh] he had a blast. I thought Kenny McIntosh showed a little something tonight. When he came out after that fumble and had that tiger eye look and wanted the ball, he ran the ball hard and physical and got yards after contact.”
The Bulldog rushing attack led the way in the second half, posting 155 yards. McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Branson Robinson ran late and the Gator defense was down.
Stetson Bennett didn’t seem to find his rhythm for much of the half, but was able to make plays in key moments to help Georgia keep the drive going, including a 29-yard fourth-and-seven conversion to tight end Brock Bowers. That play was quickly followed by a 4-yard touchdown to Kenny McIntosh, the final score of the game.
The defense also played better after Henderson’s touchdown, consistently pressuring Richardson and allowing zero points in the final quarter of action. Safety Christopher Smith said both sides of the ball supported each other.
“It felt good to get this win. It’s a great win against a great team,” Smith said. “We had our offense back out there and they had ours. We were locked into our game plan. We had some things that went wrong for us. they didn’t make it, but that happens during the game. The way we responded was the key.”
Smart said he was encouraged by the team’s response to Florida’s third-quarter surge.
“We lost momentum in the second half, faced resilience and stared it in the face and didn’t even blink and I’m really proud of our players,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “There were times when we lost momentum and that happened to us more this year than last year and we bounced back.
That resilience has served Georgia well this year, with the comeback against Missouri and tonight’s win standing out as prime examples. Center Sedrick Van Pran said resilience is part of the team’s identity.
“One of our pillars is resilience,” Van Pran said. “Every team is different, every game is different, but we know if we play hard all four quarters, good things can happen. We’ll continue to focus on all the things we need to do.” do to be successful.”
The Bulldogs will undoubtedly face more adversity this season, starting next week with a huge game at Sanford Stadium against No. 3 Tennessee. Georgia will be hoping to build on the adversity they faced tonight.