No. 2 Georgia defeated UAB 56-7 in Sanford Stadium in the home opener on Saturday afternoon.
The Georgia coaching staff started senior Stetson Bennett IV over redshirt freshman Carson Beck quarterback, which proved to be a great decision.
The Bulldogs got on the board early and often under the veteran signal-caller. Bennett connected with wideout Jermaine Burton on the second play from scrimmage for a 73-yard touchdown. The sophomore pass-catcher was able to beat his defender and the ‘mailman’ delivered a ball right in his hands for the score.
Georgia’s defense was able to force UAB to a three-and-out on its first drive during the next series. The Blazers had a false start on second down and quarterback Tyler Johnston III found wideout Ryan Davis, who had a loss of six yards on the next play. UAB punter Kyle Greenwell botched the ball 38 yards to Georgia wideout Kearis Jackson, who called for a fair catch.
The Bulldogs’ offense scored again in a matter of moments when Bennett found running back Kenny McIntosh for a 12-yard touchdown. Beforehand, the senior found freshman wideout, Adonai Mitchell, for a 10-yard gain, followed by a seven-yard run by running back Kendall Milton. Bennett then tried to connect with Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, but the pass was broken up. However, UAB was charged with two penalties on the play, which resulted in Georgia gaining 20 free yards. So, that’s when Bennett threw for his second touchdown a play later. Georgia led by two scores with 10:17 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs’ defense looked stout on UAB’s second drive, forcing Johnston out of the pocket on multiple plays. The Blazers converted on a 3rd-and-8 when running back Jermaine Brown Jr. rushed for a 12-yard gain. UAB was able to add 12 more yards over the next three plays. Johnston tried to connect with wideout Trea Shropshire up the middle on the next play. However, Georgia junior safety Lewis Cine intercepted Johnston’s pass and returned it eight yards.
It wasn’t until later in the first quarter when Georgia would score again.
Bennett aired it out to tight end Brock Bowers, who was wide open down the sideline. The freshman pass-catcher hustled down the perimeter of the field for 89 yards to the end zone. That touchdown pass was the ninth longest in program history, and the longest since former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hooked up with Reggie Davis for a 98-yard score against North Texas in 2013.
The Bulldogs started out the second quarter with another explosive play to put themselves up 28-0 after placekicker Jack Podlesy nailed the PAT. Bennett found the speedy Arian Smith across the field for a 61-yard touchdown. The sophomore wideout beat his defender on the outside and cut back upfield once he caught the pass. The Bulldogs led 28-0 with 14:09 left in the first half. At that point, Bennett had completed 100 percent of his passes for 245 yards and four scores. The former Pierce County product then had a QBR of 775.6.
Bennett threw his fifth touchdown pass of the half and second to Bowers with 1:18 remaining in the second quarter. The Bulldogs’ offense took advantage of the situation a few players earlier when Jackson returned a UAB punt for 33 yards to the opponent’s 12-yard line. The Blazers stalled out a couple of run plays before Bennett found the freshman tight end in the endzone. Georgia led 35-0 at the intermission after racking up 298 total yards on offense.
The Blazers took the ball to start the second half; however, the Georgia defense forced another three-and-out. The Bulldogs’ running game picked up on the first drive of the third quarter after struggling in the first half. Senior tailback Zamir White burst through a hole for a 14-yard gain. Bennett set up the Bulldogs inside the red zone a couple of plays later on a 20-yard scramble. Then, senior running back James Cook took advantage of the field position and scored on a 14-yard run.
Georgia’s defense forced another turnover on the ensuing possession when freshman cornerback Kelee Ringo made an athletic play to intercept Johnston’s pass. The Bulldogs took over on their own 40-yard, but Beck came in at quarterback. The redshirt freshman pioneered his first scoring drive in just four plays. Beck completed a 32-yard pass to Mitchell on the first play and three snaps later found freshman receiver Justin Robinson for each player’s first touchdown, respectively.
Georgia had a commanding 49-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter over the UAB. Johnston would throw his third interception of the game when the Blazers were trapped deep in their own territory. The Bulldogs brought pressure up front and the senior quarterback’s pass was tipped, but freshman linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson was there for the interception. He dodged several UAB players and returned the pick for six more points. The Bulldogs led 56-0 with 10:14 remaining, which proved to be the final score of the game for them.
The Blazers’ only score came on a pick-six thrown by Beck with just over five minutes to go. UAB junior defensive back Keondre Swoopes intercepted the pass and ran it back 61 yards to the endzone with 5:02 left in the fourth quarter. It was the only turnover that the Blazers were able to come up with all day.
Bennett finished the contest, tying the school record for passing touchdowns, which were all thrown in the first half. He completed nine of 11 passes for 279 yards and five scores with no interceptions. Beck finished the day by completing five of 11 passes for 97 yards with one touchdown and one interception, respectively. Freshman Brock Vandagriff came into the game with just over two minutes to go. However, he did not attempt a pass.
Georgia totaled 163 yards on the ground with White leading the way with 34 yards on seven carries. Sophomore running back Daijun Edwards had seven attempts for 29 yards. Milton had 26 yards on eight carries and McIntosh totaled 20 yards on four attempts. Cook happened to be the lone Georgia running back with a rushing touchdown as he toted the ball five times for 18 yards. Walk-on Anthony Summey also had four carries for 14 yards in mop-up duty.
Bowers again led Georgia in receiving with three receptions for 103 yards and two scores. Burton followed with two catches for 97 yards and one score. Mitchell managed to haul in two passes for 42 yards, followed by Smith, who had one catch for a 61-yard touchdown. Ladd McConkey, McIntosh, Robinson, Jaylen Johnson and John FitzPatrick each hauled in one pass apiece.
Georgia’s offense had 569 yards of total offense (376 pass, 163 rush) on the day in 60 total plays. The Bulldogs were five of 11 on third down and didn’t convert their only fourth-down conversion. Georgia averaged 26.9 yards per play through the air and 4.3 yards per snap on the ground. The Bulldogs only had one turnover on offense against the Blazers.
UAB only had 174 yards of total offense, which was a testament to Georgia’s defense playing aggressively all game long. Senior linebacker Channing Tindall led the Bulldogs with seven tackles with one sack and a tackle for loss. Defensive lineman Trezmen Marshall and Travon Walker each had four tackles, respectively. Nakobe Dean, Adam Anderson, Latavious Brini and Jordan Davis all had three tackles against UAB. Georgia added three more sacks, which totals 10 for the season. The Bulldogs also had seven tackles for loss.