JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Jake Fromm picked apart Florida’s defense for the second straight year and No. 8 Georgia beat the sixth-ranked Gators 24-17 in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” on Saturday.
Fromm completed 20 of 30 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yarder to an uncovered Lawrence Cager in the fourth quarter. Fromm also threw a TD pass in the first half, his fourth on third down in two years against the Gators.
Cager finished with seven receptions for 132 yards, both career highs.
D’Andre Swift added 86 yards rushing to help the Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) move a step closer to winning the SEC’s Eastern Division for the third consecutive year and strengthen their College Football Playoff resume.
The Gators (7-2, 4-2) looked lost on both sides of the ball most of the afternoon.
Florida had no room to run and abandoned the ground game early, and its defense got little pressure on Fromm – even with disruptive pass-rushers Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga back for the first time in weeks.
Still, Kyle Trask escaped a collapsing pocket and found Van Jefferson for a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth that made it a one-score game. But Georgia answered with Cager’s catch and run.
Trask brought Florida back again with a 2-yard TD pass to Freddie Swain , making it a seven-point game with 3:11 remaining.
But Fromm essentially ended any chance of a comeback with a 22-yard completion to Eli Wolf on third down.
Third downs proved to be the difference in the game.
Georgia converted 12 of 18 chances on the all-important down; Florida was 2 of 9.
Florida’s frustration seemed to boil over late.
Coach Dan Mullen, who had to burn two timeouts on the game’s opening drive, lost it when his guys couldn’t get lined up properly in the fourth. Mullen started screaming at offensive assistant Billy Gonzales after calling another timeout.
Mullen surely will be questioned about calling for a pass on a fourth-and-1 play on the opening drive. Trask threw incomplete, and it set the tone for the game.
Trask completed 21 of 33 passes for 257 yards and the two scores.
Georgia: After consecutive lackluster performances at home, the Bulldogs looked much more like a team that can make the CFP.
Florida: The Gators rallied three times earlier this season to win after trailing in the fourth – against Miami , Kentucky and South Carolina – but they couldn’t do it again.
Mullen walked off the field with SEC officials at halftime, still miffed by a number of questionable calls.
There was a no call on what looked like pass interference against tight end Kyle Pitts on a fourth-down play. There was a pass interference call on cornerback CJ Henderson when the ball seemed uncatchable. And officials let Cager’s 12-yard catch stand upon review in the second quarter after it appeared the ball hit the ground before the receiver got control. Fromm’s first TD pass came three plays later.
Georgia should jump Florida in the next AP Top 25 college football poll .
Georgia defensive end Malik Herring limped off the field in the fourth quarter.
Florida linebacker Jeremiah Moon left the field and walked into the locker room in the first half.
Georgia: Hosts Missouri next Saturday. The Bulldogs have won five in a row in the series.
Florida: Hosts Vanderbilt, which has dropped five straight and 27 of 28 in the series.