Georgia got off to the fast start it was looking for, but Florida answered decisively and stayed in control throughout the second half.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs lost to No. 8 Florida, 44-28 in Jacksonville on Saturday, surrendering control of the SEC East Division to the Gators.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask became the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for four touchdowns or more in the first five games of a season.
Trask was 30-of-43 passing for 474 yards passing and four touchdowns — all four scoring throws and 341 of those yards in the first half as the Gators built a 38-17 halftime lead.
The Georgia secondary was missing All-American safety Richard LeCounte from the onset, on account of his motorcycle crash last Saturday. Then UGA’s other starting safety, Lewis Cine, was ejected in the second quarter for targeting.
Georgia started Stetson Bennett at quarterback, taking him out for a series after he suffered what Kirby Smart said was a separated shoulder or sprained AC joint in the shoulder.
Bennett was finally removed in the third quarter finishing 5-of-16 for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception and UGA down 41-21.
D’Wan Mathis lead Georgia on a touchdown drive, but the redshirt freshman also had his troubles, finishing 4-of-13 passing for 34 yards with the TD and two interceptions.
Florida’s win snapped a string of 14 games in the rivalry where the team that rushes for the most yards wins.
The Bulldogs out-rushed the Gators, 165-97, including a 75-yard run from Zamir White on the first play from scrimmage.
White had six carries for 32 yards after his opening dash, a play so well blocked the junior tailback went untouched.
Kearis Jackson had three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Florida 44, Georgia 28 (1:19): Evan McPherson 34-yard field goal. Drive: 4 plays, 1 yard, 2:28.
• 10:56 Evan McPherson missed 45-yard field goal.
• 0:32 Major Burns leaves with shoulder injury
Florida 41, Georgia 28 (0:41): Kearis Jackson 25-yard catch from D’Wan Mathis (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards, 6:25. Key play: Mathis rushes for 3 yards to Florida 46-yard line on fourth-and-1.
• 2:14 Kendall Milton leaves with lower left leg injury
• 5:45 Jermaine Burton leaves with lower left leg injury
Florida 41, Georgia 21 (11:48): Evan McPherson 51-yard field goal. Drive: 7 plays, 42 yards, 3:12.
• 11:54 Florida starting OT Jean Delance leaves with injury
Bennett 4-12, 70 yards, 1 TD
Trask 20-26, 341, 4 TD, 1 Int
Georgia 1-6 on third downs
Florida 6-9 on third downs
Florida 38, Georgia 21 (0:11): Trevon Grimes 14-yard catch from Kyle Trask (Evan McPherson kick). Drive: 4 plays, 48 yards, 0:28. Key play: Jake Camarda punt sets up Florida drive at UGA 48-yard line.
Florida 31, Georgia 21 (1:44): Evan McPherson 50-yard field goal. Drive: 10 plays, 63 yards, 5:03.
• 5:38 Florida OG Stewart Reese out with injury
Florida 28, Georgia 21 (7:44): Kenmore Gamble 24-yard catch from Kyle Trask (Evan McPherson kick). Drive: 4 plays, 81 yards, 1:55. Key play: Kyle Pitts 16-yard catch from Kyle Trask to UGA 28, Lewis Cine ejected.
• 8:28 Lewis Cine ejected for hit on Kyle Pitts
• 11: 14 Florida defensive back Brad Stewart shoulder injury after hitting Kendall Milton
Florida 21 ,Georgia 21 (11:38): Kyle Pitts 25-yard pass from Kyle Trask (Evan McPherson kick). Key play: Nay’Quan Wright 50-yard pass on wheel route to UGA 25. Drive: 2 plays, 75 yards, 39 seconds.
12:17 Georgia LB Nate McBride walks slowly off field
Georgia 21, Florida 14 (14:53): Eric Stokes 37-yard interception return (Jack Podlesny kick). Key play: Stokes juggled ball before securing it on Florida’s third-and-10 from Florida 27, racing down right sideline into end zone.
1:11 Florida DE Brenton Cox comes off field with potential injury
Florida 14, Georgia 14 (1:43): Dameon Pierce 2-yard TD run (Evan McPherson kick). Drive: 11 plays, 80 yards, 5:01.
Georgia 14, Florida 7 (8:20): Justin Shorter 14-yard TD pass from Kyle Trask (Evan McPherson kick). Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards, 3:24. Key play: Keon Zipperer 39-yard pass from Trask to Georgia 20-yard line.
Georgia 14, Florida 0 (11:44): Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint 33-yard pass from Stetson Bennett (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: 6 plays, 61 yards, 2:14; Key play: James Cook 13-yard catch from Stetson Bennett to Florida 35.
• 11:44 Marcus Rosemy Jacksaint broken right ankle injury on touchdown play, season-ending injury
Georgia 7, Florida 0 (14:48): Zamir White 65-yard touchdown run (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: One play, 65 yards, 12 seconds.
Georgia captains: Monty Rice, Tyson Campbell, James Cook.
Field side reports:
— Nose tackle Jordan Davis is OUT
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• The Georgia-Florida winner has won the SEC East 5 straight years
• UGA looks to win 4 straight over Florida for the first time in 37 years
• Florida is 15-1 under Dan Mullen when scoring first in a game
• Florida is 15-0 under Mullen when scoring 30 points or more
• UGA 36-1 under Kirby Smart when allowing fewer than 20 points
• UGA 39-4 under Smart when leading at halftime (3 losses to Bama)
— @GeorgiaFootball Twitter Photo
ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart knows exactly what to expect from Florida, and the Bulldogs are braced for it.
Georgia’s control over their season goals is on the line in today’s game in Jacksonville when the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs play the No. 8-ranked Florida Gators at 3:40 p.m. (TV: CBS).
“Explosive offense, trying to score every possession, they have a lot of weapons, so they’re always on the attack,” Smart said this week. “Then you flip it over on defense, and although they had some games they struggled in, they had some sloppy play where they played Ole Miss — and Ole Miss is very different football, we saw that with Alabama, it’s almost reckless abandon —they didn’t have everybody.
“They are really big, they are really physical, they’ve got great pass rushers, outside backers, they’re playing really well now on defense.”
Georgia, meanwhile, hopes to bring an efficient offensive approach to the game an take what the Florida defense is giving.
The Bulldogs, optimally, would like to run the ball as much as possible and keep the Gators’ explosive offensive off the field.
Florida QB Kyle Trask has an SEC-record 18 touchdowns through the first four games, while Georgia leads the SEC in every major defensive statistical category including sacks, averaging 3.8 per game.
Track has been sacked four times all season, and therein likes the key when Florida is on the field.