November got off to a bad start for the Florida Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) Saturday. Looking to stay alive in the SEC East Division race, the Gators lost to the Georgia Bulldogs (5-3, 4-2 SEC), 23-20, at Ever Bank Field in Jacksonville. It marked the third straight year the Gators have lost to Georgia, the first time that’s happened since 1987-89.
For two quarters, this looked like it was going to be a dial-a-score beat down of the Gators as Georgia ran out to a 20-0 lead and held a 23-3 lead at the half, but something happened at halftime to Florida. The passion that was missing in the first 30 minutes was revived in the third quarter and the Gators made this a true tale of two halves as Florida scored 20 unanswered points and had the outcome in doubt until Georgia put together an impressive end of the game drive that consumed the final 8:17.
Next up for Florida is next Saturday’s home match-up with Vanderbilt as the Gators try to end this three-game losing streak. It’s a matter of desperation now. The Gators have four games remaining and need to win two more games to become bowl eligible. Georgia remains in the hunt for the SEC East championship and is only one game from bowl eligibility.
GEORGIA 7, FLORIDA 0: The Bulldogs took the opening drive of the game 75 yards in just seven plays for an opening touchdown. Running back Todd Gurley, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain, scored on a five-yard run with 12:15 left in the first quarter. The key play for Georgia came on a second down play in Florida territory where Gurley went 25 yards to set Georgia up in the red zone.
GEORGIA 14, FLORIDA 0: After a missed goal by Florida, Georgia answered right back with a three-play, 77 yard drive touchdown drive. Todd Gurley cashed for his second touchdown of the game, this one on a 73-yard scoring play off a short reception of an Aaron Murray pass with 9:19 left in the quarter.
GEORGIA 17, FLORIDA 0: With 2:13 left in the first quarter Georgia added a 50-yard field goal from Marshall Morgan. The field goal drive was a nine-play, 53-yard drive that lasted more than four minutes. Freshman running back Brendan Douglas had the big play with a 21-yard rush where he ran over two Gators defenders.
GEORGIA 20, FLORIDA 0: The Bulldogs missed a golden opportunity to score a touchdown as a fade pass was dropped in the end zone by Rantavious Wooten but Georgia added another Morgan field goal, this one from 27 yards out with 14:37 to go in the first half. This Georgia drive was just a five-play, 49-yard drive that was led by Aaron Murray’s arm.
GEORGIA 20, FLORIDA 3: Florida got on the board with a 31-yard field goal by Frankie Velez with 9:54 left in the second quarter. The Gators 11-play, 45-yard drive was aided by a huge kickoff return by Solomon Patton that gave Florida its best field position to start a drive of the game. The big play of the drive came on an 18-yard catch by Patton on a third and eight.
GEORGIA 23, FLORIDA 3: After Florida failed to convert a fourth down play with 1:07 left in the half, the Bulldogs converted a 32-yard field by Marshall Morgan as time ran out. The big play of the drive was a 23-yard catch by Rhett McGowan to the Florida 15 to set Georgia up for the field goal. The drive was six plays and covered 42 yards.
Tyler Murphy: 7-18 for 126 yards passing
Kelvin Taylor: 12 carries for 51 yards with a long of 10 yards
Quinton Dunbar: 3 catches for 86 yards with a long reception of 83 yards
FIRST HALF: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
THE GOOD: (1)The Gators came right out of the gates swinging on offense. Florida opened up with two consecutive passing plays to start the game with the second one a Tyler Murphy to Quinton Dunbar deep ball that resulted in an 83-yard pickup. A Georgia beat reporter sitting next to me in the press box said, “Well, I didn’t see that coming and neither did Georgia.” Neither did I.
(2) The Gators offensive line didn’t give up a sack in the first half.
THE BAD: After two passes to open the game, the Florida offense woke up and remembered; “Hey, we’re the Florida offense!” It was back to the same old predictable play calling with a run on first down, incomplete pass on second and a run on third-and-long. Couple that with an unsportsmanlike penalty on Solomon Patton and the Gators’ offense completely negated the 83-yard connection between Murphy and Dunbar after Frankie Velez missed a 40-yard kick.
THE UGLY: Where do you even start? Other than the long pass to Dunbar the entire first half was ugly for the Gators. But here are the top three things that stood out above the rest: (1) Antonio Morrison’s tackling or lack of; (2) Going for it on fourth and 10 at the end of the half when Florida could have pinned Georgia deep in their own territory with no timeouts; and (3) the Florida defense gave up 259 yards to Georgia in the first quarter alone.
GEORGIA 23, FLORIDA 10: Florida got the ball on Georgia’s 14-yard line after Leon Orr scooped up a fumbled lateral by Arthur Lynch. The Gators cashed in with a five-yard touchdown run by Mack Brown with 6:21 to go in the quarter. The Florida drive was two plays for 14 yards, all by Mack Brown.
GEORGIA 23, FLORIDA 12: After being held on third down, Florida punter Johnny Townsend pinned Georgia on its on three-yard line. On the very next play Loucheiz Purifoy came roaring in on a corner blitz to sack Aaron Murray in the end zone for a safety with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
GEORGIA 23, FLORIDA 20: A passionate Gators team drove five plays in 50 yards for a touchdown by Tyler Murphy on a 14-yard option run around the right side with 14:20 to go in the game. Clay Burton caught the two-point conversion to cut the Bulldogs lead to three. The key of the drive were Murphy runs of 25 and 14 yards on consecutive plays.
Tyler Murphy: 13-29 for 174 yards passing, 28 rushing on 10 carries and one touchdown
Mack Brown: 9 carries for 41 yards and one touchdown
Quinton Dunbar: 4 catches for 91 yards
SECOND HALF: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
THE GOOD: Leon Orr recovered the fumbled lateral and ran it to the Georgia 14 to set up a touchdown run by Brown. Loucheiz Purifoy got a blindside safety on Aaron Murray off a corner blitz. Florida’s defense was superb in the third quarter and it stuffed Gurley on a fourth down run in the fourth quarter.
THE BAD: After stopping Todd Gurley short of a first down on a fourth and three at the Georgia 37, Neiron Ball took off his helmet, a 15-yard penalty that cost the Gators extraordinary field position.
THE UGLY: After such an outstanding effort the first 22 minutes of the second half, the Gators couldn’t get Georgia off the field at the end of the game. Georgia converted three first downs and got another one on a personal foul on Darious Cummings for hands in the face of a Georgia lineman.