It takes a little guts to overcome you archrival and a team you have seen victory against just twice in the last 10 years, three times in the last 21. For Georgia, that is what was at stake, aside from the traditional momentum in its turnaround to fight back into the SEC East race.
The Bulldogs found some magic in Jacksonville for their annual showdown with the Gators, converting two fourth downs for scores, recording a key sack on 4th-and -0 late in the fourth quarter and holding off any other kind of odd occurrences that always seem to benefit Florida in this matchup.
At long last, Georgia would not be cursing the Fates as the team headed back home. At long last, the Bulldogs could take advantage of the opportunity in front of them and survive an otherwise uneven performance.
Georgia (6-2, 5-1 SEC) sent Florida (4-4, 2-4 SEC) into full tailspin mode after a winless October,. Running back Richard Samuel provided the exclamation point with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle early in the fourth quarter to give Georgia its first lead of the game and then with a 10-yard run to the Florida one-yard line on 4th-and-3 to close the game out.
This time, things that just didn't go Georgia's way in previous meetings versus the Gators did. For one, Florida turned the ball over twice, and both came at critical times. Chris Rainey put one on the ground after a 17-yard rush in Florida territory early in the second quarter. Aaron Murray and Michael Bennett turned that into a 20-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-5 fade route.
A second fumble came in the third quarter when Frankie Hammond dropped the ball at the Florida 13. Murray turned that into a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King, again on fourth down.
Those fourth down plays became a theme early on as John Brantley put the first score on the board for Florida in the first quarter with a 4th-and-19 conversion to Jordan Reed. But that might have been all the momentum the Gators could gain. The Bulldogs were ready to make all the plays necessary for the rest of the game.
A 4th-and-10 with 5:36 left ended with Jarvis Jones recording his fourth sack of the game and John Brantley limping off the field after his valiant effort returning from a high-ankle sprain.
The Gators will look back and realize they had plenty of opportunities to steal this one. Georgia kicker Blair Walsh missed two of his three field goal tries. Punter Drew Butler had two kicks of less than 30 yards that set Florida up with good field position.
Add on top of those special teams troubles a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Jeff Demps and another long return by Andre Debose.
Those struggles on special teams might typically lead to a loss in this rivalry, but the Bulldogs were game to overcome them. The defense kept Florida's offense from moving in the second half – the Gators had no drives that went longer than 10 yards in the final two quarters and amassed only 12 yards of offense. Their only score – a field goal – came after a long return from Debose.
Georgia was not much better with just 195 yards in the second half. But three scoring drives and a clock-killing march to end the game was more than enough.
It was a banner win for Mark Richt and company after years of torment at the hands of their neighbors to the south. In a game where the Bulldogs played nowhere near their best, they finally got the breaks to beat their rival.