Bulldogs lament costly mistakes
Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 9:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 9:41 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — Georgia did everything it could to keep the Florida on the scoreboard in its 49-10 blowout loss to one of its most hated rivals Saturday.
Georgia’s 39-point loss is the second-largest to the Gators in series history. Florida defeated the Bulldogs 47-7, on Nov. 7 1996. It’s also the largest margin of defeat for Georgia under coach Mark Richt.
Coming in, Georgia allowed an average of 20.3 points per game this season and held its opponents to 14 scoreless quarters. Saturday, the Gators scored at least seven points in each quarter.
The most glaring difference in the field was that the Bulldogs turned the ball over four times (three interceptions and one fumble). All of them coming in the second half.
“You can’t win when you have turnovers,” running back Knowshon Moreno said. “We had picks and we turned the ball over and you can’t win when you have those.”
Those turnovers not only gave Florida outstanding field position throughout the game – Florida scored 21 points off the four – but it also killed any sort of momentum Georgia had generated on plays earlier in each of those drives.
It wasn’t just turnovers that ruined Georgia’s chance of taking consecutive games from the Gators since the 'Dogs won three in a row from 1987-1989.
The Bulldogs went 2-for-4 in the red zone (two missed field goals from 38 and 27 yards out), had passes dropped by wide-open receivers and were penalized eight times for 49 yards.
“If you don’t score a touchdown, that’s a bummer,” Richt said. “If you miss a field goal, that’s no good either, but you just keep playing. It’s deflating, but you don’t give into it. You just go back to work, and we just couldn’t put it together.”
Georgia got a kick of momentum after holding UF to only 33 yards and a punt on its first drive coming out of the half. Things clicked on offense and the Bulldogs drove from their own 1 to UF’s 30. After completing a 16-yard pass to freshman receiver A.J. Green, Stafford’s next pass to Green was undercut by cornerback Joe Haden and taken back 88 yards to Georgia’s 1. The Gators then scored on the next play on a Tim Tebow run to increase their lead to 21-3.
Stafford, who finished with an impressive 265 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-33 passing, said the interception was the turning point in the game and made the Bulldogs more one-dimensional on offense.
“We were so far behind that we had to throw the ball and they pretty much knew it was coming,” Stafford said. “It makes it a little easier on them and then they make great plays.”
The Gators seemed to be making great plays when they needed to, but they also relied on mental mistakes by their counterparts.
Arguably the biggest came when defensive lineman Jarius Wynn’s personal foul for illegal contact to the face in the first quarter negated a Prince Miller interception on third down, giving UF a first down at Georgia’s 13. Two plays later, the Gators scored on a 13-yard option run by receiver Percy Harvin giving the Florida the early 7-0 lead.
Another major blunder by Georgia came after its first score of the game. After trimming Florida’s lead to 7-3, Richt called an onsides kick in hopes of stealing a possession from Florida. But when Blair Walsh’s kick bounced right to Florida’s Butch Rowley at the Georgia 41, it gave the Gators outstanding field position and led to their second score of the game.
“Hopefully we can just (make) something happen,” cornerback Asher Allen said of trying to get back into the game. “It seemed like the majority of the game we were waiting for something to happen. We didn’t get a big turnover we that we needed.”
As the fourth quarter rolled around, it was the Gators who were celebrating, this time with an insurmountable 35-3 lead.
“You never look at the scoreboard in a situation like that,” receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said. “You just try to make the most of the situation and try to make it better.”
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