With Stetson Bennett throwing the ball all over Faurot Field, Georgia never even faced a third down in the critical, have-to-score-now series. The senior quarterback was a perfect 4-for-4 passing for 61 yards to four different receivers on the drive. Perhaps the biggest one was an 11-yard completion to tight end Brock Bowers that got them to the 1 and set up Edwards’ score.
After Georgia’s defense forced Missouri to three consecutive incompletions and a punt, the Bulldogs took over again at their own 36. From there, Georgia put together one of their best, grind-out-the-clock drives in a long while. With Edwards again doing most of the work, Missouri had to use all three of their timeouts to stop the clock as the Bulldogs drove deep into its territory. Facing third-and-2 at the Tigers’ 28, one more Edwards’ run – this one for seven yards around right end – assured the final result. The Bulldogs went into victory formation from there.
Other than that, Georgia scored on every second-half possession. It made for the Bulldogs’ biggest fourth-quarter comeback since coming from 11 behind to beat Cincinnati 24-21 in the 2020 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
“We had to make those plays and do what we had to do,” sophomore center Sedrick Van Pran said. “All our guys on the line, our backs, everybody, I couldn’t be prouder of them. And Daijun Edwards, he did what he does.”
Meanwhile, poor Missouri suffers yet another agonizing defeat. A week after falling to overtime 17-14 in overtime, the Tigers (2-3, 0-2) watched a two-score lead slip away in the fourth quarter. They fall to 0-16 all-time against national No. 1-ranked teams.
Though tainted by two early turnovers, Georgia’s offense was a quietly efficient night. The Bulldogs totaled 481 total yards, including a season-high 169 yards rushing. Edward finished with 51 on 10 carries. Kenny McIntosh – who started and played most of the game – had 65 on 10 carries and Kendall Milton added 61 on eight attempts.
Bennett added to his growing legend, too. The sixth-year senior quarterback had 312 yards on 24-of-44 passing. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but he also didn’t throw an interception.
“We struggled. But you know what? We fought and we battled, and in the end, we somehow found a way,” Bennett said. “Sometimes in this league you have to do that.”
It was a relatively quiet night for tight end Bowers, who had 66 yards on five catches. He did haul in one particularly important catch for 33 yards and actually looked like he’d scored on an 11-yard gain that set up Edwards’ game winning score.
Georgia’s other fourth-quarter scoring drive took nearly five minutes to complete and ended in a 1-yard Milton score. Before that, the Bulldogs were having to settle for four Jack Podlesny field goals. The senior from St. Simons made all four of his attempts, the longest from 40 yards.
Missouri’s Harrison Mevis, scorned for missing a 26-yard game-winning try against Auburn last week, atoned for that performance. He made all five of his kicks, two from over 50 yards, including a career-best 56-yarder in the second half.
Missouri managed 294 yards of offense. Running back Cody Schrader led the way with 89 yards on six carries.
Edwards’ winning TD was particularly satisfying for the Bulldogs. He had been charged with a fumble on a first-half mishandle between him and Bennett on a zone-read play. Missouri recovered the loose ball 12 yards behind the Georgia line of scrimmage. But Georgia’s defense rose up and forced the Tigers into another field goal.
That was one of several resilient plays in the first half when the Bulldogs’ defense was otherwise on its heels. The biggest one was Georgia’s Malaki Starks ran down running back Cody Schrader at the 1 on what was a 63-yard rush right up the gut. The Bulldogs managed to hold the Tigers, helped by a false-start penalty, and the home team kicked a 22-yard field goal to go up 16-3.
“The biggest play of the night is probably Malaki Starks’ tackle on the 1-yard line or maybe 1-foot,” Smart said. “It allowed us to stop them. We have played good red-zone defense.”