ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 3-ranked Georgia Bulldogs scored 16 unanswered points to start the second half and held off a late push from seventh-ranked Notre Dame in a 23-17 victory on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium Saturday night.
A record crowd of 93,246 and a national television audience on CBS watched as the Bulldogs fell behind 10-7 at the half. Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) then stormed out in the final 30 minutes to preserve the win late in the game.
Junior tailback D’Andre Swift led all rushers with 98 total yards on the ground, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Jake Fromm completed 20-of-26 passes for 187 total yards and one score.
Defensively, Georgia was led by senior linebacker Tae Crowder’s nine total tackles. Bulldog defensive backs Divaad Wilson — a redshirt-freshman — and senior J. R. Reed each recorded second-half interceptions in the win.
“That was a hard-fought game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “I have a lot of respect for Notre Dame and their program and how they battled. But man, our kids played hard. … That was a huge win for them. They play so hard and work so hard and play with toughness. I was happy to see them pull that out.”
Neither team could get much going in the first quarter as the game stayed scoreless through the first 15 minutes. Notre Dame was able to move the ball into Georgia territory, but a fumbled snap by quarterback Ian Book on 4th-and-2 stalled the Irish drive.
A muffed punt by Tyler Simmons set Notre Dame up at the Georgia 8-yard line, eventually leading to a 4th-and-goal at the one. The Bulldogs were able to press Book out of the pocket, but he found tight end Cole Kmet in the end zone for the first score of the night, giving the Irish a 7-0 lead at the 10:39 mark of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs countered with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Swift.
Notre Dame kicker Jonathan Doerer ended the half with a 27-yard field goal to put the halftime score at 10-7.
On the Irish’s first offensive possession of the second half, Wilson intercepted a Book pass and set the Bulldogs up at the Notre Dame 22-yard line. Georgia’s drive came to a halt and Rodgrigo Blankenship knotted the score at 10-10 with a 40-yard field goal.
Blankenship added another — this time from 31 yards out — to give Georgia its first lead at 13-10.
Georgia’s onslaught continued into the fourth quarter. Senior wide receiver Lawrence Cager capped off an 8-play, 82 yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone.
Following another Blankenship field goal, Book marched the fighting Irish down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with Chase Claypool’s 4-yard TD reception.
Notre Dame forced a 3-and-out and the Fighting Irish got the ball back with two minutes on the clock. On a 4th-and-8 play, Book’s heave fell just short and the Bulldogs held on for the 23-17 win.
Georgia now has a week off before traveling to Tennessee on Oct. 5.