Georgia football handles Vanderbilt and early deficit, 41-13

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Georgia's defense rose to the occasion with two key short-yardage stops against Vanderbilt.

ATHENS —Georgia got its first taste of playing from behind on Saturday night, for all of 15 seconds in the first quarter, and the Bulldogs seemed to respond just fine.

Quarterback Jake Fromm hit Terry Godwin with a 75-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Georgia’s longest play of the season, and the Bulldogs ran away for a 41-13 victory over Vanderbilt.

Fromm’s bomb marked the ninth occasion Georgia attempted a pass of more than 20 yards, and it was the fifth time the Bulldogs completed one of that nature. 

“It was a huge catch by Terry, good read by Jake, they didn’t get a lot of pressure,” Coach Kirby Smart said. “We work hard for those big balls, and it’s good to get rewarded on with a vertical downfield.”

Fromm was noticeably more aggressive going vertical in the passing game against Vanderbilt, eschewing many of the shorter, high percentage passes he relied on through the first five games.

Fromm finished 17-of-23 passing for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

Georgia quarterback Justin Fields was 3-of-6 passing for 53 yards along with four carries for 18 yards in his limited playing time. 

Smart has brought Fields on in relief of Fromm in all six games this season, developing the true freshman while ensuring quality depth for the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC).

It was a historic win for Georgia, which has started back-to-back seasons 6-0 for the first time in school history with the win over the Commodores (3-3, 0-2). 

It was the Bulldogs best start on offense, the team scoring as many offensive touchdowns in the first half (3) as they had in the first three SEC games combined.

Vanderbilt was outgaining the Bulldogs through the first quarter-and-a-half, but the Georgia defense stepped up with key stops that swung the momentum.

The Commodores were held to a field goal on their first scoring drive when defensive end Tyler Clark dropped Khari Blasingame for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-1 from the Georgia 5-yard line.

The junkyard mentality was in effect again in the second quarter, when freshman nose guard Jordan Davis stopped Blasingame for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Bulldogs’ 14 with 10:35 left in the first half.

“It was a big play in the game, they were aggressive to go for it, we have not been a good short yardage team, we struggled to stop people on third-and-1,” Smart said. “That’s been a big emphasis for us to improve on that, so we were able to call one of our calls that we put in for that situation.”

Georgia had been outgained 168 yards to 117 to that point, but the Bulldogs’ seized the momentum generated by the defensive stops, dominating the remainder of game.

Georgia did not escape unscathed. 

Starting sophomore left guard Solomon Kindley was carted off with a right knee injury at the 3:58 mark of the first quarter.

The injury puts the Bulldogs’ down two starters on the offensive line. Junior right guard Ben Cleveland suffered a broken bone in his leg and is out indefinitely.

Georgia travels to play at No. 5-ranked LSU for a 3:30 p.m. game in Tiger Stadium next Saturday (TV: CBS, Radio: WSB 95.5 FM, 750 AM).

LSU dropped a 27-19 road game at No. 22-ranked Florida on Saturday, it’s first loss of the season.

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