Football in the
southeast was certainly an uncertainty this weekend as Hurricane
Florence wrecked havoc on the Carolinas. Numerous games, football
and otherwise were cancelled. Georgia reacted as well. Not so much
because the weather would be bad for the original 7:15pm start, but
because first responders and fans might be needed elsewhere. So, on
Thursday, UGA announced that they had moved the start time up to a
Middle Tennessee State was in town coming off a convincing 61-37 beating
of UT-Martin. Georgia had an equally dominating pouncing at SEC East
rival South Carolina 41-17. A high scoring game appeared to be on
Apart from the band, there appeared to be about a hundred visiting fans
in the northwest corner of the stands. The Blue Raiders won the toss
and deferred to the second half. Georgia began at their 25 yard
line. But an unsportsmanlike conduct call moved it back to the 13.
A pair of D'Andre Swift carries didn't do much, but an off sides
call made it third and one at the 22. Swift converted to the 24.
Elijah Holyfield picked up three then was off to the races down
the far sideline for 66 yards and a first and goal at the 7. A few
plays later, Jake Fromm found Mecole Hardman open for
a 7-0 lead. The drive took just 7 plays going 87 yards in 3:36.
MTSU could only muster seven yards on their first drive, kicking the ball
back to the Dawgs at the 11.
Swift started with a pair of carries for six. Holyfield broke loose for 21
but a holding call on Cabe Mays brought it back to the nine
for a third and 13. Fromm was hit in the end zone knocking the ball
loose. But Ben Cleveland saved it falling on it at the two.
The short punt gave the Blue Raiders great field position at the
Chaton Mobley got nine on two carries. With a third and one,
Kirby Smart's old friend, Rick Stockstill, took a time
out. A gadget play failed miserably losing all the ground they
gained. at the 35, they decided to go for it needing nine. But,
Brent Stockstill had his pass attempt read perfectly by Deandre
Baker who took it back 26 yards to midfield.
Brian Herrien caught one for 20. But a holding call made it first
and 19 at the 38. Fromm hit Swift to his left who jukes four
defenders before going out at the 20. With a third and two, Smart
took his first time out. Holyfield picked up the first with a 9 yard
rush to the 11. FS Greg Grate was hurt on the play. Tyler
Simmons was also being checked in the Georgia tent. On the next
play, Fromm hit Jeremiah Holloman for his first TD to extend
the lead to 14. That drive took just 5 plays and 49 yards in 2:00.
MTSU got their first first down with a 7 yard gain by Terelle West
to the 37. A third and four was overthrown forcing another punt
which was short but benefitted from a good roll all the way to the
Justin Fields was in at QB with a handoff to Holyfield to the 13.
Fields hit Isaac Nauta to the right who took it out to the
32. On a third and six, Field navigated his way for 8 to the
44 for a new set of downs as the first quarter came to an end. The
lopsided score was reflected in the stats which had UGA ahead on
total offense 177 to 28. The only drawback was the 3 penalties for
Weather began to change a bit with a cloud cover and wind gusts whipping
the flag around. My guess is that the crowd didn't mind losing the
hot sun and feeling a nice breeze to cool things off.
On the first play of the second quarter, Simmons sprinted down the home
sideline 56 yards all the way to pay dirt and a 21 point lead. Six
plays, 94 yards in 2:40.
The Blue Raiders took over at their 30 after another off sides call.
Brad Anderson caught one for six and a first down. West got 8
more on the ground to midfield. A direct snap to West converted to
the UGA46. West again for 7 to the 3. But the promising drive ended
abruptly when Anderson fumbled after making a catch, for Georgia's
second turnover, recovered by Richard LaCounte at the 29.
Fromm was back under center handing off to Herrien who got a quick 8.
Hardeman caught one for 7 ad a first down at the 44. Holyfield went
up the middle for 11 into MTSU territory at the 45. A short Hardman
catch was nullified on a holding call by Jason Stanley making
it second and 21 at the UGA45. A third and sixteen sack of Fromm for
a four yard loss to end the stuttering drive.
MTSU got the ball at their 25. A third and nine caused a second time out
by coach Stockstill. But they call he came up with only resulted in
a 5 yard catch forcing another punt. Hardeman caught it at his 30
and weaved his way the distance for a 28-0 lead with seven minutes
still to go in the half. The crowd exalted with the playing of
Sweet Caroline. Not so much with the Blue Raider faithful as
they tried again from their 25.
Patrick Smith got a 12 yard first down catch at the 42. Anderson
carried it for 7 and another first to the UGA47. Smart took his
second time out at 5:26. Playing against a lot of backups on
defense, the Blue Raiders finally got on the board when Smith
sprinted untouched for 41 yards making it 28-7. 8 plays and 75 yards
A false start and the Dawgs were first and 15 at the 21. Then Fromm hit a
sprinting Holloman downfield for 65 yards to the 14. Holyfield
became the first Georgia back with 100 yards rushing this season.
Riley Ridley got in on the act pulling down a TD catch in the
far corner of the end zone to get back the 7 points and return the
lead to 28. 35-7. Four plays, 74 yards in 2:01.
Still two minutes left in the half with the Blue Raiders starting again
at their 25. Nothing doing.
Georgia had the ball with less than a minute and Fields back in. His
helmet was knocked off when Khalil Brooks was charged with
targeting and kicked out. Fifteen more yards and the ball was at the
32. Nauta caught one for 12 to the 20. Hardeman got five more to the
15 with 30 second left. Fields saw an opening and got the rest for a
20 yard TD scamper and a 42-7 halftime lead. Five plays, 59 yards in
54 seconds on that one.
Middle Tennessee State got the ball to start the second half and moved it
a bit from their 30 to the UGA45 before stalling.
Georgia again started a drive in the shadow of their own end zone, this
time at the 10. But, transfer Demetris Robertson got them
some breathing room with a 23 yard dash. Fields hit Holloman for 14
yards. Herrien carried it three times for 15. Then another score as
Fields hit Jason Stanley to make it 49-7.
And, basically, you could say this game ended right there. Smart took his
foot off the gas and played a variety of substitutes at every
position. For the third straight game, UGA had scored over 40
points. The formula was followed to perfection. Get off to an early
lead, get your starters out and give a lot of the rest of the team a
lot of playing time.
The Bulldogs will have a tougher test next week with another noon
kickoff. They'll be in the other Columbia at Missouri in an SEC East
battle of 3-0 teams. The Tigers barely escaped with a 40-37 victory
at 0-3 Purdue.