ATLANTA, Ga.– Posting its third shutout of the season, the top-ranked University of Georgia football team completed its first unbeaten regular season since 1982 with a 45-0 victory over rival Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon before 54,400 spectators at Bobby Dodd Stadium and an ABC national television audience.
Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett finished 14-for-20 for 255 yards and four touchdowns, while freshman tight end Brock Bowers tallied 100 yards receiving on three catches with two scores. On the ground, junior tailback Kenny McIntosh led with 66 yards on two carries and a touchdown. On the defensive end, Georgia (12-0, 8-0 SEC) held Georgia Tech (3-9, 2-6 ACC) to only 171 yards of total offense and 3.1 yards per play, with junior linebacker Nakobe Dean leading with six tackles.
“I thought our guys started fast,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “We challenged them to start fast. I was pleased with no penalties. We had some sloppy series offensively and defensively, but overall, they came out and executed to a standard. They didn’t play to the scoreboard, they played to our standard and I was proud of what they were able to do.”
After forcing a three-and-out on Tech’s first drive, junior returner Kearis Jackson set Georgia up with a 22-yard punt return to the Tech 36-yard line, but the Bulldogs were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal from junior place kicker Jack Podlesny. On the following Georgia drive, the Bulldogs broke into the end zone as Bennett found sophomore wideout Jermaine Burton for a 25-yard touchdown, making it 10-0 with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter.
As the opening period came to a close, Bennett moved the Bulldogs into Tech territory with a 30-yard completion to sophomore receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, followed by a 15-yard catch and run from junior tailback Zamir White. Now in the second, Georgia extended the lead as redshirt freshman wideout Ladd McConkey took in a screen pass from 11 yards out for a touchdown, assisted by a block from Bowers. The freshman tight end earned a score of his own on the following possession, taking a slant 77 yards to the house and bringing the score to 24-0 at the 11:03 mark.
Georgia Tech maintained possession for much of the second quarter, moving into Georgia territory on a 12-play drive lasting just under eight minutes, but the Bulldog defense forced a punt. Following Georgia’s first three-and-out of the afternoon, Tech looked to finally reach the scoreboard, but consistent pressure from junior linebacker Nolan Smith kept the score at 24-0 heading into the locker room.
The Georgia offense continued to roll into the second half, benefitting from a third down pass interference penalty at the Tech 39-yard line. The nine-play, 75-yard drive concluded with a 9-yard touchdown catch by Bowers in the corner of the end zone, his second of the game and 10th receiving score of the season. The Yellow Jackets again crossed midfield, but a pair of false starts stalled their drive.
Taking over at their own 33-yard line, the Bulldogs wasted no time adding to the lead as McIntosh ran for a 59-yard touchdown. On the ensuing Tech drive, freshman linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson’s sack led to a turnover on downs early in the fourth quarter. Starting near midfield, sophomore tailback Daijun Edwards took it in from three yards out, making the score 45-0 with nine minutes to play. Following one more Yellow Jacket punt, the Bulldogs ran out the clock for the shutout victory.
Georgia now turns its attention to next Saturday’s SEC Championship Game against No. 3 Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The matchup begins at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS.
Georgia Player Quotes
#13 | Stetson Bennett | Sr. | QB
On the team’s focus one week before the SEC Championship…
“We’re just focused on doing the duty that lies near us. We knew what this game meant for us and for the history of this program. If we slipped up, anything could happen, so we were just focused.”
On the meaning of the victory…
“It means a lot. It’s the first 12-0 season since 1982. It’s a big accomplishment. Now, all the fun starts.”
On the return of George Pickens to the field…
“I just wanted to get the ball to him, get the ball in his hands on that play—like you said, shake the rust off. It’s good. He’s a great player. We’ve got to get some of the chemistry back that comes from being out that long. But he was extremely happy to be back on the field and we’re all happy to have him.”
#17 | Nakobe Dean | Jr. | LB
On the defense’s performance…
“We talk about getting better every week and ascending, continuing to ascend every week. This is just taking a step in the right direction of what we’re trying to do.”
On the return of Pickens…
“It meant a lot just seeing the work he put in in the offseason, the rehab, how positive he’s been. A lot of guys can look up to the type of attitude he had and the way he attacked this rehab to get back. So, it meant a lot to see him get back out there and play again.”
On the defense posting a shutout…
“I love seeing that goose egg on the other side. If they can’t score, they can’t win. It’s always great for the defense to be able to go shut out a team, definitely a team as good as Georgia Tech.”