Stetson Bennett's long TD run vs. Auburn latest impact UGA football QB has made with feet

Marc Weiszer
Athens Banner-Herald
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) breaks away for a long touchdown run during the second half of a NCAA college football game between Auburn and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2022. Georgia won 42-10.

Stetson Bennett, SEC rushing touchdown leader?

The Georgia football quarterback isn’t there yet, but he’s just three behind Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins’ conference leading 8.

Bennett tops Georgia with 5 rushing touchdowns, one more than running backs Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards. He’s tied for fifth in the SEC, also behind South Carolina running back MarShawn Lloyd (7), Tennessee running back Jabari Small and Ole Miss running back Zach Evans (6 each).

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Bennett has scored a rushing touchdown in all but one game this season and his 64-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw play against Auburn Saturday was the longest run for a Georgia quarterback since Ray Goff went 73 yards in 1976 in a 41-0 win at Clemson.

Longer than Aaron Murray’s 57-yard run against Tennessee in 2013, Justin Fields’ 56 yarder against Middle Tennessee in 2019, Quincy Carter’s 49-yard run against Kentucky in 1998 and D.J. Shockley’s 40-yard run against Boise State in 2005.  

“I started going and then down at the end, I was like, ‘Good lord, I haven’t run this far in a while,'” Bennett told reporters Saturday. “My legs started giving out, but it was just grass. They all turned their backs and then Ladd (McConkey) had a good block on the safety.”

“It was a great call by Monk and a good designed play,” coach Kirby Smart said of offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “It proves again that he’s multi-dimensional, is hard to defend because of things he can do.”

Bennett himself this season has more rushing touchdown than 13 FBS teams including Kentucky, Boston College and Colorado and as many as Iowa. Georgia is tied with Ole Miss for most nationally with 21.

Bennett’s next rushing touchdown would be the 10th of his career. Georgia hosts Vanderbilt Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Bennett has rushed for 106 yards on 21 carries this season. That includes minus-50 rushing yards on sacks.

He’s third in the SEC in total offense at 308.3 per game behind Mississippi State’s Will Rogers (341.7 yards per game) and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker (332.6).

“He brings the ability to make defenses play honest,” Smart said Monday when asked about the dimension Bennett’s running ability brings to the offense. “You can’t play a guy that can take off running a certain way and if you do, he’ll expose you. He gives you the ability when people man match and play split safety coverages, he can do things with his feet. Third down, he becomes a weapon with boot, nakeds, read plays where you can read the backer and read the flow.”

Bennett is tied for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in the SEC with Florida’s Anthony Richardson and is tied for sixth among quarterbacks nationally in rushing touchdowns, according to cfbstats.com.

Bennett’s ability to make plays with his feet brought another dimension to Georgia’s offense last season. It helped him keep the starting job after JT Daniels was sidelined by injuries.

“It wasn't really anything JT did, it was more along the lines of what Stetson did that we thought gave us the best chance to win,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said before the Orange Bowl last December, “his mobility, those things, in the run game and the pass game when things break down we believe give us the best chance to win.”

Bennett has rushed for 431 yards during his Georgia career. His 5.0 average per carry this season is the best in his four seasons.

“You’re actually defending one extra person,” Smart said. “We know that defensively from some of the quarterbacks we’ve had to face, the nightmare that can create. We’ve got to do a good job of utilizing that skillset while also keeping him safe.”