Jacksonville Sports Day

BOWLS: Sugar Not Sweet for Bulldogs in Loss

NEW ORLEANS –  The fifth-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs completed their 2018 campaign with a 28-21 final in favor of the 15th-ranked Texas Longhorns in the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday night.

Checking in with the second-longest active bowl streak (22), Georgia concluded the third installment of the Kirby Smart era with an 11-3 record. The Bulldogs’ 2018 senior class finished its career with 42 wins, which matches the 2004 squad for the third-best mark in school history.

“[This senior class] bought in to what this staff wants to do,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “They have led and have done the hard things, and they’ve won a lot of football games. They have turned this program in the right direction. We just have to find a way to finish it and do it the right way, and we will do that moving forward.”​

Texas (10-4) struck first, using a 10-play, 75-yard march for the 7-0 margin, sealed with a 2-yard touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger​. Georgia was forced to punt on its first offensive drive, and a booming boot from freshman Jake Camarda was called back due to a knee down prior to the kick, setting up a 37-yard Longhorn field goal.

Texas opened the second quarter with a 9-yard Ehlinger touchdown and the 17-0 lead, capitalizing on a Georgia fumble with three plays and 12 yards en route to the end zone.

“[Texas] does a great job with uptempo,” Smart said, “but when they have to play physical, they do. They can play physical, and they did a good job of that. Their quarterback managed the game well with his QB run play. He really hurt us. We missed tackles and didn’t finish defensively, and then we weren’t able to run the like we’d like to consistently, but give Texas credit. They did a good job stopping that.”

Less than a minute into the second quarter, the Bulldog offensive production sparked. The 12-play, 75-yard drive featured senior tight end Jackson Harris, junior wide receiver Riley Ridley, junior tailback Elijah Holyfield and senior tailback Brian Herrien, who accumulated 27 yards on the drive, including a 17-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm. The Herrien touchdown was the first of his career through the air.

The Longhorns tacked on another three points from kicker Cameron Dicker before intermission interrupted the 20-7 score.

With an 11-yard Holyfield run to open the second half, the junior tailback locked in the 1,000-yard rushing milestone on the 2018 season, joining sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift. The Swift-Holyfield pair marks the second-straight Georgia tandem to reach 1,000 yards in the same season, following the Nick Chubb-Sony Michel duo in 2017.​

After a stagnant third quarter from both sidelines, Texas started the final frame at Georgia’s 16-yard line. Ehlinger pushed the Longhorns inches from the end zone; four attempts later, the Texas quarterback crossed the goal line before a two-point conversion sealed the 28-7 advantage.

On the next drive, Fromm required just 1:15 off the clock to cut into the Longhorn lead. The sophomore quarterback directed three straight completions to junior tight end Charlie Woerner and Swift before connecting with sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman for 31 yards, placing Georgia at the Texas 3-yard line. Junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman reeled in the touchdown pass from Fromm for the 28-14 score.

Texas drained the clock until a missed field goal restored Georgia’s offensive possession with 1:10 remaining in the contest. Five penalties consumed the next 56 seconds – three Texas, two Georgia – placing the Bulldogs at the Longhorns’ 34-yard line. After a 22-yard Terry Godwin reception, Fromm found Swift on back-to-back passes, the second a 5-yard touchdown.

After a Blankenship extra point secured the 28-21 score, the redshirt junior kicker teed up the onside kick with 22 seconds remaining, but Texas recovered and confirmed the 28-21 final.

“These guys aren’t happy nor am I with the performance we had,” Smart said. “We did not come out and play the way we are capable of, but I certainly want to thank the people of New Orleans for hosting us and I want to congratulate Texas. Tom [Herman] did a great job with his team and with his program. They have gotten better throughout the season. They played more physical than us and it showed to me that they wanted it more, so you have to give them credit for that.​​​”

Georgia’s 10th all-time appearance in the Sugar Bowl resulted in its 4-6 overall record. Texas improves to a 4-1 series record against the Bulldogs. The two teams are slated for a home-and-home regular-season exchange between Austin and Athens in 2028 and 2029.

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