JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Daijun Edwards and Kenny McIntosh ran for two touchdowns each, and No. 1 Georgia pulled away from Florida following a second-half scare to win 42-20 Saturday night in the rivalry dubbed ”the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
The defending national champion Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) looked to be in trouble when the Gators (4-4, 1-4) scored the first 17 points of the third quarter and turned a 28-3 deficit into a one-score game.
But the Dawgs answered with consecutive touchdown drives to seal their 10th consecutive victory. Georgia beat Florida for the fifth time in six years.
Edwards finished with 106 yards rushing. McIntosh added 90 on the ground.
Stetson Bennett completed 19 of 38 passes for 316 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Tight end Brock Bowers caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards, including a 73-yard score in which he hauled in a ball that tipped off linebacker Amari Burney.
Burney’s luck turned in the second half when he forced a fumble that led to a field goal and then picked off a pass that set up Anthony Richardson’s 78-yard TD pass to Xzavier Henderson.
Little else went the Gators’ way. Georgia finished with 555 total yards against Florida’s beleaguered defense and was 2-for-3 converting fourth-down plays.
Richardson threw for 271 yards and a touchdown for the Gators, who have lost 12 of their last 15 SEC games. Nearly half of Richardson’s passing yards came on plays of 78 and 41 yards. Freshman Trevor Etienne ran for 53 yards and a score.
Georgia surely will celebrate this one after a day of mourning. Legendary coach Vince Dooley died Friday.
Dooley dominated the Georgia-Florida series during his coaching career, going 17-7-1 against the Gators. The most famous victory came in 1980, when Lindsay Scott hauled in a 93-yard touchdown pass from Buck Belue in the closing minute. The improbable 26-21 triumph propelled Georgia to a perfect season and their first consensus national title.
Florida: Despite playing Kentucky and Tennessee tough earlier this season and then rallying against Georgia, the Gators have ground to make up in the SEC’s Eastern Division. Napier knows it starts on the recruiting trail and losing five-star cornerback Cormani McClain on Thursday was a step back in Florida’s rebuild.
Georgia: The Bulldogs struggled at times against Florida, most notably because of dropped passes, costly penalties and turnovers. Those are the kind of mistakes that could doom Georgia in close games as the toughest part of its schedule awaits. The Dawgs face No. 3 Tennessee, Mississippi State and 19th-ranked Kentucky the next three weeks.
Georgia should retain its top spot in the next AP college football poll.
Nine NFL teams were on hand to scout talent on both teams: Baltimore, Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter surely ranks high atop everyone’s wish list. He returned to action after missing the last two games with ankle/knee issues.
Georgia standout linebacker Nolan Smith spent the second half in street clothes because of a shoulder injury. His position got even thinner when freshman Darris Smith was injured on the second-half kickoff, shaken up when Florida’s Jack Pyburn drove him to the ground. Georgia right tackle Amarius Mims was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.
Florida plays at Texas A&M for the second in three years. The Aggies won 41-38 in 2020.
Georgia hosts third-ranked Tennessee. The Bulldogs have won five in a row and 10 of 12 in the series.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25