FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–via UGA Sports Communications
Jacksonville, Fla. — After jumping ahead 24-3 in the third quarter, Georgia (10-3) was able to hold on and beat Penn State (7-6) by a final score of 24-17 in the Taxslayer Bowl at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field on Saturday afternoon.
The victory over Penn State gave Georgia’s senior class 40 wins for its four-year career.
Freshman wideout Terry Godwin became the first non-quarterback to throw for a score for Georgia since 2005, and the first Bulldog wideout to throw for a score since 1998, when he hit senior Malcolm Mitchell in stride for a 44-yard strike for the first touchdown of the game. Later in the first half, he pulled in a 17-yard touchdown from Greyson Lambert.
After going up 24-3 in the third quarter, Georgia was able to hang on for the seven-point victory behind a strong defensive effort. Georgia was able to limit Penn State’s offensive output to 17 points despite being outgained 401-327. Penn State did not score a touchdown until the first play of the final quarter, and tailback Saquon Barkley was contained to 69 yards on 17 carries. The defensive unit finished the game on the field, knocking down a 43-yard heave on the final play that could have tied the game.
On the offensive side, Mitchell capped off a strong career with five receptions for 114 yards and a score. Tailback Sony Michel also had a strong game to end his sophomore season, amassing 85 yards rushing and flaunting a 21-yard scamper for a score in the third quarter.
The Bulldog defense dominated in the first half, holding Penn State to just 182 yards of offense and 39 yards rushing in the opening 30 minutes while forcing an interception on the game’s first possession. The turnover from Christian Hackenberg was the sixth pick of the season for safety Dominick Sanders.
Offensively, Georgia was sparked by Godwin’s play, which included a 44-yard strike to Mitchell early in the second quarter and a 17-yard grab for a touchdown later to expand the Bulldogs’ lead to 17-3 before the intermission.
After the break, Michel’s 21-yard sprint late in the third quarter extended the lead, just one drive after Georgia took over deep in Penn State territory but squandered the scoring opportunity.
The Nittany Lions broke through for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter with backup quarterback Trace McSorley connecting with Geno Lewis for a 17-yard score to trim Georgia’s advantage to 14 points. Two drives later, McSorley hit DaeSean Hamilton for a score down the seam for 20 yards to make the score 24-17.
The Bulldogs got the ball back with 6:07 remaining in the contest, and behind a methodical drive and several strong runs by senior back Keith Marshall, were able to run the clock down to under 90 seconds. The defense then held long enough to seal the victory for Georgia.