ATHENS, Ga.—During a rainy-turned-gloomy day in Athens, the Bulldogs overcame a somewhat dreary first-half performance to wallop visiting FCS foe Southern, 48-6.
Seventh-ranked Georgia, who entered the game as a staggering 50-point favorite, led the Jaguars by only 14 points at halftime. In the first half, Georgia scored on a touchdown run by sophomore Sony Michel, a 24-yard pass from quarterback Greyson Lambert to tailback Nick Chubb, and two field goals by senior Marshall Morgan.
Southern scored its points midway through the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by Lenard Tillery, who finished with a team-high 75 rushing yards on 19 carries. Trailing 17-6, the Jaguars’ fake on a two-point try ended with an incomplete pass.
“I challenged our line at halftime,” head coach Mark Richt said following the game. “Our backs were slamming into trash [in the first half]. There was no space. … The whole key was when the line took over.”
And, how the line took over in the third quarter…
Georgia opened the second half by driving 65 yards in five plays, including four rushes by Chubb, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run from the sophomore sensation to give the Bulldogs a 27-6 advantage. Less than five minutes later, Lambert threw his second touchdown pass of the game, completing a 23-yard score to senior Malcolm Mitchell.
Mitchell finished with game highs in both receptions (five) and receiving yards (96). Following up his near-perfect performance against South Carolina a week ago, Lambert was nearly perfect again, completing 9 of 10 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Since halftime of the Vanderbilt game, he has remarkably completed 89.8 percent of his pass attempts (44 of 49).
“I haven’t really done anything differently,” Lambert said regarding his play since the first half at Vanderbilt. “I have just kept playing. Bad things are going to happen and good things…You have to keep playing and put those things behind you.”
Leading 34-6 midway through the third quarter, the Bulldogs kept playing, and dominating.
Needing 18 yards to achieve his 12th consecutive 100-yard rushing game, Chubb scored on a long, 49-yard jaunt—his third touchdown of the game.
“Coming into the half, [the offensive line was] like ‘how many [yards] do you need Nick [to get 100]?’” Chubb said following the victory. “And, I was like ‘ya’ll care more about it than I do.’”
Chubb finished with 131 rushing yards on merely 15 carries, and also had the 24-yard reception for the score. Chubb “officially” tied Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games. However, Georgia records don’t consider bowl games prior to 2002. If so, Chubb would still trail Walker’s “unofficial” record of 13 consecutive 100-yard rushing performances by one game.
With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs tacked on another touchdown when Michel raced 58 yards for a score, shaking off a would-be tackler in the process. Michel finished with 75 rushing yards on only six carries. His two touchdowns give him seven for the season, which is tied with Chubb for the team lead.
Leading 48-6, Georgia’s offense was kept out in the end zone during the final quarter due in large part to a missed field goal by backup placekicker Patrick Beless, a fumbled punt return, and a lot of reserves seeing the field. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs’ defense continued to wreak havoc on the Southern offense.
Notably, after the Jaguars had eight first downs and 150 total yards (4.3 yards per play) in the first half, they were held to two first downs and 34 yards (1.5 yards per play) after halftime.
Next up for Georgia is its much-anticipated home affair a week from today with Alabama—an opponent who assuredly won’t allow the Bulldogs to take a quarter, or an entire half off until they kick it into high gear.
“We’ll find out what we did wrong, correct it and get better at what we do,” Richt said when asked about getting ready for Alabama. “We have so much to get better on, and it’s a task we take very seriously.”