Georgia football certainly didn’t always look like a championship team at Missouri, but the Bulldogs responded like one.
Senior tailback Kenny McIntosh keyed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives as No. 1-ranked Georgia avoided an upset in Columbia on Saturday night, rallying for a 26-22 win over the Tigers.
READ: How Georgia avoided embarrassing loss at Missouri, rallied to win
“We always talk about rising to the competitive nature of the opportunity,” said Kirby Smart, who trailed to an unranked team by double digits for only the second time in his Georgia head coaching tenure.
“The opportunity arose tonight, and they answered the bell.”
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McIntosh, playing on an injured thigh, was at the heart of it, coming through when coordinator Todd Monken put the ball in his hands in the clutch.
There were plenty of other options: a run or throw to All-American Brock Bowers, a quarterback rollout option or putting another back in the game.
But Georgia chose to put the ball in McIntosh’s hands on a pivotal fourth-and-2 at the Missouri 4-yard line trailing 22-12 with 10 minutes left.
That first down run netted 6 yards, but the sound of the collision likely raised the adrenaline of his Bulldogs’ teammates.
Smart had preached how Georgia needed to “leave a mark” in road affairs such as this, and his senior tailback set the example.
McIntosh wasn’t finished, breaking off a 22-yard burst on the next play, breaking tackles to fight through the second level before limping off.
Smart took note.
“Kenny is out there like a wounded man, I mean the guy was running for the team,” Smart said. “Great effort, great toughness, running over people.
“There’s no way you can say he was 100 percent. He was doing it for his team.”
Smart new a special performance was needed, as he commented on how the Georgia offensive line had a subpar night.
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McIntosh, who leads the Bulldogs with 22 catches this season finished as the Bulldogs’ leading rusher at Missouri with 65 yards on 10 carries.
RELATED: Daijun Edwards comes on in relief to finish off drive