D’Wan Mathis took over at the 7:06 mark of the third quarter and led the Bulldogs on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped with his 26-yard pass to Kearis Jackson on third-and-14. Mathis had a 17-yard run on the drive’s second play and a key 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1 at midfield. In the meantime, the Bulldogs suffered two more injuries as receiver Jermaine Burton and running back Kendall Milton went to the sideline. Burton would come back, but Milton (left leg) did not.
Georgia’s defense stiffened in the second half as Florida went somewhat more conservative and had to punt twice and missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt. That kept the Bulldogs' within two scores.
But Mathis was unable keep the ball moving on a possession that started at the Georgia 9 and ended at its 29. Bulldogs defensive back Mark Webb dropped what surely would have been a “pick-6 interception” on Florida’s ensuing possession. Instead, Trask, under pressure, hit Kadarius Toney for a 21-gain and the first down they needed to use up most of the clock.
The Bulldogs would get one more chance, taking over at their own 28 with 5:06 to play. But Georgia went for it on fourth-and-8 in its own territory, and Mathis threw an interception.
The redshirt freshman quarterback, who is coming back from surgery to remove a cyst on his brain last year, had a tough day passing the ball. He was 4-of-12 for 32 yards and two interceptions.
More interesting will be how the Bulldogs handle to position going forward. Georgia (4-2) plays Missouri on the road at noon Saturday. The Tigers (2-3) were off this weekend.
“All I can say is we’re not going to give up,” said Georgia’s Jackson, who had a 56-yard kickoff return in the game. “We’re just going to keep fighting, keep motivating each other, keep a positive attitude and keep going to work.”
It truly felt an entire game was played in the first two quarters alone because so much happened. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, most of it was bad and they went to the locker room at trailing 38-21 with Florida set to receive the ball to start the second half.
In a nutshell, Georgia’s offense was outscored 38-7 after the Gators' posted a scintillating, 24-point second quarter. Trask, who came into the game with an SEC-record 18 touchdowns in the first four games, added four more touchdowns in the first half alone. That extended his SEC record of four touchdowns to five games in a row. He also completed 20 of 26 passes for 341 yards.
The primary issue at hand was a Georgia secondary already ravaged by injuries, then losing sophomore safety Lewis Cine in the first quarter to a targeting penalty. That play also injured Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and sent him to the sideline for the rest of the half. Later in the first half, defensive back Tyrique Stevenson also had to come out of the game because of injury.
One of Trask’s touchdowns went to Pitts for 25 yards. The others came on throws to receiver Justin Shorter, tight end Kemore Gamble and receiver Tevon Grimes.
That last one was the real killer. Georgia was forced to punt from its own 25 with only 45 seconds remaining in the half. But then Jake Camarda shanked a punt for the first time all season, it went only 23 yards and the Gators took over at the Georgia 48 with 39 seconds remaining in the half and two timeouts.
They needed only 28 seconds before Grimes beat Tyson Campbell on a leaping 14-yard touchdown.
All that was decidedly different than the way the game started. The Bulldogs found themselves leading 14-0 just 3:16 into the game. Those points came on a 75-yard run by Zamir White on Georgia’s first play from scrimmage – the previous long run of his career was 29 yards – and a 32-yard pass to freshman Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint on only the 10th overall play of the game.
But a some bad things happened on that touchdown play. Rosemy-Jacksaint suffered what appeared to be a broken leg on the hit as he was breaking the plane of the end zone. Replacing the injured Pickens, he’s now out for the season.
Bennett also was injured on the play when he was hit on his right shoulder after the throw by Florida’s Brad Stewart. He tried to play the next series but was obviously still in pain. He went to the locker room after a three-and-out series, fumbling the snap on third down in the process -- and Mathis came in on Georgia’s next possession.
Bennett would come back, but he was unable to get the Bulldogs on the move again.