No. 7 Georgia runs by Georgia Tech
ATLANTA — No. 7 Georgia turned the tables on rival Georgia Tech on Saturday, using the Yellow Jackets’ own formula to beat its in-state rival.
The Bulldogs outrushed Georgia Tech and also won the time of possession — both traditional strengths for the Yellow Jackets — and kept their national championship hopes alive with a 38-7 win Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“Our kids really played hard today,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They were in a physical, tough battle. We’ve got a lot of areas we need to improve on, but I feel like we’re getting better as a team. We’ve got a great challenge ahead of us next week.”
The Bulldogs (11-1) will play for the Southeastern Conference championship next week in Atlanta, with the winner likely earning a spot in the College Football Playoffs. The win gave Georgia its 10th season with 11 victories and was the most one-sided game in the rivalry since 2012, when the Bulldogs won 42-10.
Georgia amassed 470 total yards, 247 of that on the ground, and held the ball for 30:14.
“Clearly disappointed in the way we performed,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “I think we got beat just about every way you can get beat. They certainly outplayed us, outcoached us ... whatever you want to say. It was frustrating. It wasn’t much fun out there.”
Georgia, which entered the game averaging 267.4 yards rushing, was led by senior running backs Sony Michel (13 carries, 85 yards, one touchdown) and Nick Chubb (12 carries, 53 yards, one touchdown). Quarterback Jake Fromm completed 12 of 16 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought (Jake) did a good job managing the game, understanding what they were trying to do to him,” Smart said. “He made good decisions.”
The Bulldogs stymied the Georgia Tech running game, which started the day ranked fourth in the nation, averaging 319 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets were held to 188 yards rushing and 226 total yards.
“Proud as hell,” Smart said. “It is hard to keep them from rushing for 200 yards. ... They did a great job of doing it. They embraced the challenge and I’m proud of them.”
Georgia Tech (5-6) was led by quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who rushed 17 times for 72 yards and completed 2 of 7 passes for 38 yards, one touchdown and one interception. KirVonte Benson rushed for 44 yards and Nathan Cottrell added 43, with 33 coming on one run.
“They’ve got good backs and we missed a ton of tackles,” Johnson said. “There were times we were in position to make plays and we didn’t make them. On the flip-side, there were plenty of plays on offense where we needed one block or had guys there to get a block and we couldn’t get a block. Same thing.”
Georgia jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard run from Chubb that capped a 12-play drive, and a 21-yard pass from Fromm to Javon Wims, who beat veteran Lawrence Austin on a crossing pattern in the end zone.
Georgia Tech answered with a 75-yard drive that was capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to Ricky Jeune with 48 seconds left in the half.
Georgia was able to rush down the field and set up a 37-yard field goal for Rodrigo Blankenship, giving the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead as time expired.
“We talked about at halftime that it was important to try and get some momentum back,” Johnson said.
The Bulldogs added two more touchdowns in the third quarter, a 4-yard run from Michel and a 2-yard run from freshman D’Andre Swift, who set up the score with a 31-yard run.
Georgia Tech threatened early in the fourth quarter, but Marshall’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by Isaac Nauta. Three plays later Fromm connected with Ahkil Crumpton down the left sideline for a 78-yard touchdown pass, the longest of the season for the Bulldogs.
NOTES: Georgia Tech QB TaQuon Marshall broke the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback, passing Justin Thomas, who ran for 1,086 yards in 2014. Marshall finished the season with 1,146 yards. ... Georgia RB Sony Michel moved into third place for career rushing with 3,314 yards, trailing only Herschel Walker and Nick Chubb. ... Georgia PK Rodrigo Blankenship set a school record with his 52nd career touchback, surpassing College Football Hall of Famer Kevin Butler, who had 51 in 1981. ... Georgia SS Dominick Sanders made his 50th career start, tied for fourth in school history and the most by a defensive player.