This one really went to the Dogs

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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JACKSONVILLE — Like a lot of Florida fans, Dan Mesa had a premonition that things might not go the Gators’ way against Georgia on Saturday.

“They really hate Florida,” Mesa said. “To open up a can of whoop ass today is something they would really enjoy.”

Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5), who did not start the game but had to come in when starter Anthony Richardson left the game with a concussion, is greeted by fans as he walks off the field in dejection after the annual Florida Georgia rivalry game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday. The Gators lost 34-7 to the Bulldogs.  [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

He didn’t really want to go to the game, but some buddies talked him into driving up with them from Gainesville. As they shared a few beers before the game, they hoped for the best against the top-ranked Bulldogs.

“If we can be competitive against Alabama,” Jim Horner said, “we can be competitive against Georgia.”

Florida was surprisingly competitive — for the first 28 minutes. Then if TIAA Bank Field had a roof, it would have caved in on the Gators.

They had a fumble and two interceptions in the final 2:22, and Georgia turned every turnover into a touchdown. Suddenly, a respectable 3-0 deficit was a 24-0 butt-whooping.

At that point, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party turned into a decidedly one-sided celebration. The red-and-black half of the stadium reveled in beating their rivals for the fourth time in five years.

The orange-and-blue half slowly started emptying out. The only thing Gator fans had left to root for was a score — any score.

Florida holds the NCAA record for scoring in consecutive games. The streak began in 1988 and was up to 417 games going into Saturday.

When Jace Christmann missed a short field goal in the third quarter, things got suspenseful. But Emory Jones scored on a two-yard run with 4:53 left to make it 27-7.

The streak will live to see another day. Call it a minor moral victory on a day Georgia - as Mesa feared  really enjoyed.

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