COLUMBIA, Mo. — It was a history-making game for Missouri, but No. 7 Georgia made sure Saturday night there was no history-making win for the home team.
Old man football 1, SEC Newcomer 0.
Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson made the “old man football” comment leading up to the game with that barb directed at the Bulldogs, but Georgia’s actions — particularly those of defensive star Jarvis Jones — turned out louder than words with a second-half rally as the Bulldogs scored the final 24 points to run away with a 41-20 win before a sell-out crowd of 71,004 at Faurot Field.
Georgia was missing four suspended defensive starters, but still had Jones, its junior All-American linebacker.
All he did was grab his first career interception off of James Franklin and return it 21 yards to the 1 before a Todd Gurley touchdown run. Then he sacked Franklin and forced a fumble that Jordan Jenkins recovered to set the table for Ken Malcome’s 6-yard touchdown run, and the Bulldogs suddenly led by 21.
“Mizzou had some big plays, they threw their punches, but you’ve got to play the whole game,” Jones said.
Jones changed the complexion of the game even though he played after straining a groin in practice in the middle of the week.
“He sucked it up and played the whole time and he made the very big plays when we needed them the most,” coach Mark Richt said. “That’s what great players do.”
Others pitched in, too.
Marlon Brown (eight catches, 106 yards, two touchdowns) came up with big catches and Richard Samuel snuffed out a fake punt early in the fourth quarter, a play Richt said may have been the biggest play of all. It led to a 41-yard Marshall Morgan field goal.
With the suspended players out on defense and the Bulldogs having to travel here for the first SEC game for Missouri, many picked the Tigers to pull the upset.
It looked like that might happen as the Bulldogs played catchup after Franklin hits big scoring plays through the air against a Georgia secondary again missing All-American safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Sanders Commings. Linebackers Alec Ogletree and Chase Vasser also remained out.
Missouri led 17-9 early in the third quarter on the strength of Franklin touchdown passes of 41 yards to Marcus Lucas in the second quarter and 69 yards to L’Damian Washington in the third. Branden Smith was beat on the first touchdown and Devin Bowman and Connor Norman could only watch as Washington ran free into the end zone.
“In the second half, outside of the one big play they got, I thought we played well on defense,” Jones said.
This was a day to welcome in the newest members of the most powerful conference in college football.
SEC commissioner Mile Slive did the pregame coin toss at Texas A&M’s game against Florida and then flew to Columbia to do another flip for Missouri’s first SEC game.
“We didn’t want them to make their statement on us,” cornerback Malcolm Mitchell said. “We knew they were going to try to build their reputation off beating Georgia and we didn’t want that to happen, so we just played hard.”
Missouri was 12th in the nation in total offense last year, but managed just 130 yards in the first half.
“It was quite a scene tonight,” Richt said. “It was definitely a great challenge for our football team. There were times where I was just starting to wonder what was going to happen.”
Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) won’t have to climb out of an 0-1 conference hole for a third straight season.
“A lot of people thought we were going to come up here and get upset, but the guys stayed confident, the coaching staff kept us pumped and the Bulldog Nation came out and supported us,” Jones said.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham praised his front, which controlled the line of scrimmage and was physical with Franklin, held to 25 rushing yards on 20 carries and 25 of 41 passing for 269 yards with two touchdowns and the interception.
“He had to go out of the game twice because his helmet came off,” Grantham noted.
Missouri led 10-3 before Murray threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Freshman Marshall Morgan, who drilled a 52-yard field goal, was wide-right on the extra point.
Slive wasn’t complaining at how close the game was then.
“Good first half,” Slive said. “That’s exactly what we’d like to see.”
It wasn’t anything that the offensive coordinators for either team wanted to see.
Georgia was 0 of 7 on third downs in the first half. Missouri was 1 of 10.
Georgia had 148 yards, 71 of those coming on the 58-second drive before halftime.
“The passing game was speeding things up,” Brown said. “We were pass, pass, pass and then run the ball really quick.”
Missouri still led 17-9 in the third, but Georgia answered back with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Murray (22 of 35 for 242 yards with three touchdowns and an interception) hit Tavarres King on a slant for a 7-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion to Michael Bennett to tie the game at 17.
Georgia got rolling in the passing game to take the lead for the first time and for good with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
Murray hit Brown for 40 yards. After a 22-yard screen to Bennett, Murray found Brown in the end zone for an 11-yard score and a 24-20 lead.
“Once we started to allow Murray to hold the ball long enough to make some plays, we started to break them down a little bit,” Richt said. “When we started throwing and catching, that’s when things started to happen.”
Murray said Georgia players tried to ignore the “old man football” talk during the week, “but I think it was definitely a little added incentive.”
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
—————– — – — – —–
Georgia…………. 0 9 15 17 – 41 Record: (2-0,1-0)
Missouri………… 0 10 10 0 – 20 Record: (1-1,0-1)
RUSHING: Georgia-Todd Gurley 10-65; Ken Malcome 7-33; Keith Marshall
12-32; TEAM 1-minus 5; Aaron Murray 5-minus 12. Missouri-Murphy,Marcus 6-43;
Lawrence, Kendial 8-41; Franklin,James 20-25; Hunt,Jimmie 1-8; Moe,T.J. 1-4;
Barrow,Trey 1-3; Berkstresser, Corbin 1-2; TEAM 1-minus 24.
PASSING: Georgia-Aaron Murray 22-35-1-242. Missouri-Franklin,James
RECEIVING: Georgia-Marlon Brown 8-106; Michael Bennett 8-79; Tavarres
King 2-41; Jay Rome 1-15; R. Wooten 1-3; Keith Marshall 1-3; Todd Gurley 1-minus
5. Missouri-Lucas,Marcus 6-88; Moe,T.J. 6-45; McGaffie,Gahn 5-34; Washington,
L’Damian 2-81; Sasser,Bud 2-17; Lawrence, Kendial 2-1; Green-Beckham,Dorial 1-5;
Murphy,Marcus 1-minus 2.
INTERCEPTIONS: Georgia-Jarvis Jones 1-21. Missouri-Bonner,Donovan 1-13.
FUMBLES: Georgia-Todd Gurley 1-0; M. Mitchell 1-1; Ken Malcome 1-0.
Missouri-Franklin,James 1-1; Lawrence, Kendial 1-1; Moe,T.J. 1-0.
Stadium: Faurot Field Attendance: 71004
Kickoff time: 6:50 pm End of Game: 10:38 pm Total elapsed time: 3:48
Officials: Referee: Tom Ritter; Umpire: Casey Moreland; Linesman: Johnny Crawford;
Line judge: Tim Beard; Back judge: John Wright; Field judge: Brad Freeman;
Side judge: Chuck Russ; Scorer: Tim Knarr;
Temperature: 74 F Wind: 9 MPH NW Weather: Sunny and Clear