ATHENS, Ga.– With a 45-21 victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium, the fifth-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs football team retained the Governor’s Cup in Athens for the second consecutive season.
With the win, the Bulldogs remain perfect at home with an 11-1 regular-season record in back-to-back years.
A balanced attack with 447 total yards of offense – 285 on the ground and 162 through the air – was paired with a Bulldog defense that held the nation’s top rushing offense to 66 total yards (all rushing), four first downs and one touchdown in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm opened the contest with seven-straight completions, matching up with seven different receivers for a 13-for-16 final clip with 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift registered his fourth 100-yard rushing contest of the season with 105, complete with a touchdown.
With nine tackles, the Georgia defense was paced by senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, a member of a senior class that improved to 42-11, the third-best mark in school history.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “They have a good program and a good team, and our guys take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and competing. I thought we played really hard today…This is a credit to our seniors, to our entire team, for buying in. We’re getting better each week.”
After scoring seven-straight touchdowns in the first half against Massachusetts last week, the Bulldogs’ first five drives resulted in a touchdown.
The first Georgia possession, a 9-play, 75-yard drive, was finalized by a 5-yard touchdown from Fromm to junior wide receiver Riley Ridley. After the first Georgia defensive stop, the Bulldogs used an 11-play, 88-yard march – featuring a 39-yard rush from junior Elijah Holyfield and receptions from tight ends senior Charlie Woerner and junior Isaac Nauta – to reach the 1-yard line, where Swift fought for the touchdown and the 14-0 margin.
After the Yellow Jackets’ Juanyeh Thomas returned the first 100-yard kickoff return against the Bulldogs since 1999, Georgia’s distanced itself yet again with a 6-play, 63-yard drive, highlighted by a 26-yard Jayson Stanley rush. At the 12:56 mark, the 21-7 lead was sealed by a 12-yard touchdown from Fromm to sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman.
Next, Georgia took over on downs as the Bulldog defense held Georgia Tech at its own 44-yard line, highlighted by a tackle from Ledbetter for a 3-yard loss and a sack from freshman defensive lineman Jordan Davis for a 4-yard loss. On the following play, Georgia took control on offense, and Fromm found junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman feet from the end zone for the 44-yard touchdown and the 28-7 lead.
After another Bulldog stop, Georgia needed just four plays, split between freshman tailback James Cook and Swift, before Holyfield leaped into the end zone, extending the ball across the plane for the 8-yard touchdown.
With 48 seconds remaining in the half, the Bulldogs marched 40 yards between a 13-yard Swift rush and three-straight Nauta receptions to set up a Rodrigo Blankenship 25-yard field goal. Georgia headed into the half with a 38-7 advantage.
After the Bulldogs forced a three-and-out to open the second half, six plays and 53 yards later, Georgia produced a 45-7 score. Swift checked in with 39 yards on two carries, setting up a 4-yard Ridley touchdown, his career-topping second of the day, from Fromm between a pair of Georgia Tech defenders.
The Yellow Jackets tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter, but the Bulldogs’ 45 points held till the 45-21 final.
Next up, the Bulldogs head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC Championship in Atlanta against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, December 1.
“It’s where this program should be,” Smart said. “It feels like a game we should be going to every year. Our guys will lay it on the line and they’re excited about the opportunity. It will be a great atmosphere, one of the best in college football. It will be another game week for us. We’ll prepare for our opponent and treat it like every other week.”