ATHENS – No. 5 LSU couldn’t take care of their end of the deal against Florida, but the No. 2-ranked Georgia Bulldogs did their job and then some against Vanderbilt with another dominating win at Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs’ defense struggled early to reign in the Commodores and their pesky quarterback Kyle Shurmur. But they countered with some offensive flexing of their own and made some timely stops before finally putting away their homecoming visitors, 41-13. Georgia played the entire fourth quarter with backups and Vandy’s last score came with 2 seconds remaining with all its starters in the game.
It was the 25th time the Commodores have been the homecoming opponent for Georgia. The Bulldogs are now 21-4 in those matchups. Vanderbilt won 17-16 the previous time, in 2016.
The Florida Gators stole some of the thunder from next weekend’s “DawgNation Invasion” of Baton Rouge. The No. 22-ranked Gators knocked off LSU, 27-19 on Saturday in Gainesville. That game wrapped up just 15 minutes before Georgia and Vanderbilt kicked off in the first night game of the season for the Bulldogs. The temperature was still in the 90s at kickoff.
Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs with 276 yards passing and 3 touchdowns as Georgia rolled to a season-best 560 yards offense. He completed passes to seven different receivers, including a 75-yard touchdown to Terry Godwin. D’Andre Swift had 99 total yards and a touchdown on 50 rushing and 49 receiving.
This contest was much more difficult – and more physical – than Georgia had anticipated. The Bulldogs found themselves trailing in a game for the first time all season after Vanderbilt kicked a field goal 4:30 into the game.
But the Bulldogs answered in 15 seconds with the touchdown pass from Fromm to Godwin. Making his first start of the season, the injury-plagued Godwin shook at tackle and faked out another defensive back in the last 10 yards of the 75-yard score.
Then Georgia lost two starting offensive linemen on the same play late in the first quarter. Left guard Solomon Kindley was went out with a right knee injury and senior center Lamont Gaillard went to the locker room with ice on one of his hands, though he would later return.
Shortly thereafter, Vanderbilt drove down to the Georgia 14 and went for it on fourth-and-one. True freshman nose tackle Jordan Davis stopped Khari Blasingame well short and the Bulldogs took over on downs.
Georgia’s offense responded with one of its best drives of the year. Fromm handled the first seven snaps to get the Bulldogs down to Vanderbilt’s 24-yard line. There, Justin Fields came in, and Elijah Holyfield took his zone-read handoff for a dive-to-the-pylon touchdown. That gave the Bulldogs a 14-3 lead at the 7:49 mark of the second quarter.
Vandy’s offense continued to move the football, but had to settle for another field goal with 2:18 remaining in the half. Turned out that was more than enough time for the Bulldogs to answer.
Fromm’s arm propelled Georgia down the field. The sophomore quarterback completed five passes on a six-play, 75-yard, all-passing scoring drive. It included a 28-yard completion to tight end Isaac Nauta and a 10-yard touchdown to Riley Ridley on a fade route. And just like that, Georgia led 21-6 with the ball coming its way to start the second half.
The Bulldogs took care of business then, too. Fromm zipped the offense down the field in eight plays and hit Riley Ridley with a 10-yard touchdown pass to take full control of the game.
Fromm had another huge game, with 276 yards passing and three touchdowns through three quarters. But Fields played a lot as well, leading Georgia on two scoring drives and heading into the final stanza with 71 total yards of offense.