ATHENS -- No. 1 Georgia started slowly but pulled away to defeat in-state rival Georgia Tech 37-14 on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

The victory was the Bulldogs’ fifth consecutive over the Yellow Jackets in the rivalry.

The win improved Georgia to 12-0 during the regular season for the second consecutive year. It’s the first time in school history the Bulldogs accomplished that.

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Key play

With Georgia leading 13-7 early in the third quarter, Tech punter David Shanahan bobbled the snap on a fourth-and-5 at the 30-yard line. Georgia tackled him for a 13-yard loss to take over at the 17-yard line. Seven plays later, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett hit Brock Bowers for a 1-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line to give his team a 20-7 lead.

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Key stat

Georgia’s defense limited Tech to an average of 1.4 yards per rushing play on 28 attempts. The Yellow Jackets finished with 40 yards. They were averaging 141.1 rushing yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. Georgia’s rushing attack averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 41 attempts. It finished with 268 yards.

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Game balls

Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh led Georgia with 86 yards on 12 carries. He had a season-long 45-yard run in the second quarter. McIntosh also caught two passes for 91 yards, including a career-long 78-yard reception in the third quarter.

Tech quarterback Zach Gibson completed 19 of 35 passes for 191 yards.

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What we learned

Georgia continued its habit of starting slowly, falling behind Tech 7-0 after its first drive. The Bulldogs were helped by several Jackets mistakes during the game. Georgia took advantage of those mistakes to wear down Tech. The defense didn’t give up the second touchdown until the victory was in hand. Several Georgia players said after the game that they recognize the slow starts are an issue, but also are confident that they have the experience to know how to overcome.

For Tech, the Jackets again played hard for interim coach Brent Key. Tech put together a solid game plan that focused on attacking along the sidelines, where there mostly were one-on-one matchups, and staying away from the middle of Georgia’s defense. But it couldn’t overcome its self-inflicted mistakes, which included two errors by the special teams, which were a problem most of the season.

Georgia 37, Georgia Tech 14

They said it

“It’s hard to do. You schedule these games, and you get everyone’s best every single week. This team just keeps rising to the occasion. We came out a little flat, a little lethargic, you’re always worried about your team over Thanksgiving because they take that break. But they answered the bell in the second half. Georgia Tech helped us with some turnovers, but there are so many things we need to work on to get better at. I wish we had played better. I want to play better, and that starts with us as coaches trying to get it better.” -- coach Kirby Smart on Georgia going 12-0 for the second consecutive regular season.

What’s next

Tech: The Jackets (5-7, 4-4 ACC) must hire a coach, whether it’s to promote Key, who went 4-4 after he was promoted to interim following the dismissal of Geoff Collins, or hire reported candidate Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina, or go with someone else.

Georgia: The Bulldogs (12-0, 8-0 SEC) will face LSU in the SEC Championship game Dec. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.