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By: Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No. 2 Florida entered Saturday’s showdown with No. 10 Georgia in control of the SEC East, but a 17-9 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs in Jacksonville means that UGA now controls its destiny in the race to Atlanta.
Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) had only committed four turnovers in their first seven games of the season, but the Gators turned it over six times against the Dawgs. The final turnover came on what would’ve been a huge play for UF, as tight end Jordan Reed had taken a Jeff Driskel pass inside the UGA 10-yard line before Jarvis Jones punched the ball out from behind for the Bulldogs to fall on.
Georgia (7-1, 5-1) was much improved on the defensive side of the football with the return of Jones from an ankle injury, holding the run-first Florida offense to just 81 yards on the ground, its lowest output of the season. This was a stark contrast from UGA’s previous three games, when the defense had surrended 197, 230, and 206 rushing yards in consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, the Dawgs exploited the Gators for 124 yards on the ground, led by freshman Todd Gurley’s 119 yards and first quarter rushing touchdown.
Both teams were hurt by penalties and turnovers, as the game featured nine total turnovers and 24 penalties for a combined 227 yards. Driskel was forced into two interceptions after throwing only one all season, and the Bulldogs also forced and recovered a pair of fumbles from the sophomore. Driskel’s counterpart, Aaron Murray, threw three interceptions of his own but connected with Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown pass with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth that turned out to be the game-clincher for UGA.
Florida concludes SEC play at home against Missouri next week while the Bulldogs have two conference tilts remaining, one at home against Ole Miss and another at Auburn on Nov. 10. If UGA wins those two games, it will represent the East in the SEC Championship on Dec. 1.
Passing – Aaron Murray, 12-for-25, 150 yards, TD, 3 INT
Rushing – Todd Gurley, 26 car, 119 yards, TD
Receiving – Malcolm Mitchell, 5 rec, 74 yards, TD
Passing – Jeff Driskel, 16-for-28, 185 yards, 2 INT
Rushing – Mike Gillislee, 22 car, 78 yards
Receiving – Jordan Reed, 5 rec, 74 yards
· Florida had won 18 of the last 22 meetings between UF and UGA prior to Saturday’s renewal, and the Bulldogs’ win brings head coach Mark Richt’s record against the Gators to 4-8 in 12 games.
· Gators head coach Will Muschamp was 0-4 against Florida as a player at Georgia from 1991-1994, and he is now 0-2 as coach at Florida against the Bulldogs.
· In Florida’s first six SEC games of 2012, the Gators had outscored opponents 108-21 in the second half. On Saturday, Georgia outscored UF 10-3 in the final two quarters to clinch the win.