COLUMBIA, Mo. — Georgia’s defense presented the Bulldogs with a halftime lead, then the offense took it and ran with it.
Together it resulted in a 43-29 victory as No. 2-ranked Georgia improved to 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in SEC East play. The Bulldogs have won five in a row against Missouri and six of seven since their first meeting in 1960 Orange Bowl.
With two conference road wins under their belt, the Bulldogs return home to face Tennessee next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CBS-TV, WSB Radio AM-750, FM-95.5). It was the first loss of the season for the Tigers (3-1, 0-1).
After failing to score an offensive touchdown in the first half for the first time this season, Georgia scored on its first two possessions in the third quarter and added another on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jake Fromm first connected with Riley Ridley for a 33-yard touchdown and then hooked up with J.J. Holloman for a 61-yard score on the next possession to start the second half. Fromm hit Mecole Hardman for a 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It was a good thing, because that’s about the same time Missouri quarterback Drew Lock finally got hot. The projected NFL first-rounder led the Tigers on two long scoring drives in that period and another in the fourth quarter to turn a developing blowout into a competitive game.
The Bulldogs finally got a stop on fourth-and-short just inside the 5-minute mark of the fourth quarter. That left Lock with 221 yards on 23-of-44 passing with no touchdowns and an interception. He ran for one score.
In between were a lot of hiccups by Georgia that would’ve made it a much easier day if avoided. Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 49-yard field goal attempt and had a 36-yarder blocked midway through the fourth quarter. Fromm also recorded an interception that was snatched out of Hardman’s hands in the first quarter and he had a season-high 10 incompletions in the game.
But Fromm and Georgia seemed to always come through when they had to. His 27-yard completion to Riley Ridley in the fourth quarter gave them a critical first down that allowed them to kill more clock. That keyed a final scoring drive that ended with a 40-yard Blankenship field goal with 1:41 to play.
Fromm finished with 260 yards passing on 13-of-23 passing with a 3 touchdowns and an interception.
Georgia didn’t do much on offense in the first half, but it didn’t have to. The Bulldogs couldn’t muster an offensive touchdown but the defense managed two.
Freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell caused a fumble and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown six minutes into the game. Then, at the 5:45 mark of the second quarter, redshirt freshman cornerback Eric Stokes blocked a punt and caught it on one bounce on the way to an 8-yard touchdown.
Otherwise, it was a whole a lot of wallowing around for the Bulldogs on the offensive side of the ball in the first half. They managed just 148 total yards and only 66 passing yards before halftime just a week after Purdue exploited Missouri’s defense for 572 yards passing.
Twice the Bulldogs had to settle for Blankenship field goals, including a 21-yarder after Tae Crowder’s interception and return set them up at the Missouri 7 in the second quarter. Blankenship also missed a 49-yard attempt wide right, his first miss of the year.