Jacksonville Sports Day

SEC: No. 14 Gators Slide Past Georgia

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For anyone doubting that the 14th-Florida Gators are good enough to win the SEC, quarterback Luke Del Rio had this say after Saturday’s 24-10 win over Georgia.
“One hundred percent. I believe it with every bone in my body,” Del Rio said. “We are getting better each week.”

Take Saturday’s 24-10 win over Georgia, for example.

Although the Gators scuffled at times offensively, another sterling effort by Florida’s second-ranked SEC defense shut down the Bulldogs, allowing head coach Jim McElwain’s squad to stay in the driver’s seat for the East title.

“Both teams played their tails off and it’s a lot of fun to see the guys compete out there,” McElwain said. “This never gets old. This was a lot of fun.”

The Gators (6-1, 4-1), who won the game for the third straight year, were impressive indeed.

Florida held Georgia (4-4, 2-4) to 164 total yards, including a season-low 21 on the ground, and made life miserable for quarterback Jacob Eason by holding the freshman to 14-of-32 passing for 145 yards.

“It’s hard anytime (the opponent) makes you one dimensional,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “It’s hard to be successful. It’s frustrating because I really thought we’d be able to run in this game. There were glimpses, but nothing consistent. When you can’t run consistently it makes you one-dimensional.”

Bulldog running back Nick Chubb, who rushed for just 20 yards on nine carries, agreed.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We couldn’t really get going. I felt like it was always three and out and we weren’t getting a rhythm or anything, so it feels pretty bad.”

Meanwhile, Florida’s offense did what it needed to do to win, despite managing just 228 total yards.

But the Gators did what Georgia could only do once — find the end zone, including a 4-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Antonio Callaway with 5:54 to go in the third.  A 38-yard field goal by Eddie Pienero in the fourth quarter accounted for the final score.

“You can see the speed of our defense and there’s not a lot of holes,” Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “There aren’t a lot of places you can pick at.”
Florida led 14-10 in what was a sloppy first half by both teams.

One of those mistakes came during the Gators’ opening drive when Bulldogs safety Dominick Sanders picked off Del Rio, who completed 15-of-25 passes for 131 yards, to set up a 25-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship for a quick 3-0 lead.

But the Gators would answer, using a nice catch on the sideline by C’yontai Lewis to set up Florida’s first touchdown, which Lewis scored from 19 yards out after a missed tackle from Sanders.
Georgia would reclaim the lead in the second quarter on a 14-yard pass from Eason to Riley Ridley, only to see the Gators go up a second time on a 2-yard run by Jordan Scarlett to jump back in front 14-10.

Florida was penalized six times for 45 yards while the Bulldogs dropped a handful of passes, including one from Eason with no Gator defensive back within 15 yards.

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