ATHENS, Ga. — The 74th annual G-Day game this afternoon didn’t quite have the atmosphere, nor the crowd, of last year’s 93K Georgia spring game, but its result was certainly more in doubt. In front of what was announced as officially 66,133 in attendance—although popular opinion was the crowd was probably more so around 50,000—the Red defeated the Black 25-22 on a game-winning field goal with just over a minute remaining in the contest.
‘’I’m really excited about our fan base. We had 66,000 people,” said head coach Kirby Smart after the game. “It makes me proud to be a Bulldog. I’m glad they came out. A lot of recruits made comments about the attendance.”
The placekicker for both teams, Rodrigo Blankenship had an off day by his standards, missing two of six field goals and even an extra point after the Black had tied the game at 22-all with 2:31 remaining on an extraordinary catch-and-grab 38-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Eason to Charlie Woerner. Still, as Coach Smart remarked, Blankenship made the kick that counted the most.
With the game tied, early-enrollee quarterback Jack Fromm drove the Red 60 yards in eight plays to the Black’s 10-yard line. From there, Blankenship made a 28-yard field goal with just 1:03 remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Red squad.
Fromm finished the game 14-for-23 through the air for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Eason was 16-of-36 for 311 yards and two scores, becoming the first Bulldog in the history of G-Day to pass for 300-plus yards. The Black’s Terry Godwin was the game’s leading receiver with 130 receiving yards while Tyler Simmons led the Red squad with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown.
To the contrary, the two running games were near-stagnant. Featuring the team’s starting offensive line, Black rushers were limited to 37 yards on 14 carries not including the minus-39 yards Eason netted on six rushes. The Red netted 67 rushing yards on 25 attempts.
“Obviously, we didn’t run the ball like you want to, but to be honest with you, it wasn’t part of the game plan,” Smart said. “We wanted to see if we could throw the ball some, move the ball around. We would have liked to run it better with the ‘One’ offense, which we didn’t do, which we have to improve on.”
Trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, the Red scored touchdowns on its next two drives, ending with a 42-yard scoring pass from Fromm to Jeremiah Holloman, followed by a three-yard scoring scamper by Holyfield. Just prior to halftime, Blankenship’s 33-yard field goal pulled the Black within eight points, 14-6.
After a near-scoreless third quarter, Eason connected with Jayson Stanley for a 33-yard touchdown late in the stanza before another Blankenship field goal gave the Black a 16-14 advantage with 5:25 left in the game. However, less than two minutes later, Fromm connected with Simmons for a 76-yard touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion on a pass to Holloman, to regain a 22-16 edge.
Following Blankenship’s late-game field goal, the Black had one more shot at victory, but Eason could only move his offense five yards in seven plays before turning the ball over on downs with 10 seconds remaining.
The Red’s victory gave it a 39-31-3 all-time advantage over the White-turned-Black in the G-Day series.
“[The players] really competed and challenged each other more than maybe we had done earlier in the spring,” Smart said. “So overall, I was pleased with the day, excited about the growth of our team. I really saw some players getting better throughout the entire spring.’’