AUBURN, Ala. – Brock Bowers lifted Georgia to a 27-20 win over Auburn with a Heisman Trophy campaign-worthy performance.
Bowers, a two-time All-American, reeled in a career-high 157 receiving yards, including the game-winning touchdown on a 40-yard catch-and-run that silenced Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC with the win over the Tigers, who drop to 3-2 and 0-2 in league play.
In addition to his game-winning grab, Bowers also reeled in a pass thrown behind his back for a 28-yard gain on a third-and-9 from the UGA 47 to spark another fourth-quarter drive.
Moments later, Bowers made another impressive grab that netted 15 yards down to the 11-yard line, setting up Peyton Woodring’s go-ahead 38-yard field goal with 10:57 remaining.
MALAKI SEALS IT
Georgia secured the win when Malaki Starks intercepted Payton Thorne on Auburn’s last-gasp fourth-and-9 pass with 1:28 remaining.
Georgia’s offense flexed its muscles with a 98-yard-touchdown drive to tie the game at 17-17 in the third quarter. The drive was capped by Daijun Edwards’ tackle-breaking 13-yard touchdown run with 1:03 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs had to get it done through the air on the drive, too, as Beck connected with Ladd McConkey for a 12-yard gain on a third-and-10 at the UGA 37.
Two plays later, Beck found Brock Bowers, who raced 29 yards down to the Auburn 13 to set up Edwards’ game-tying touchdown.
Georgia tight end Oscar Delp fumbled the ball away on the Bulldogs’ opening play on the opening drive of the second half at the Bulldogs’ 32-yard line after catching a pass from Carson Beck.
The Tigers quickly took advantage, scoring three plays into their ensuing possession on Robby Ashford’s 9-yard run to go up 17-10 with 13:31 left in the third quarter.
Second-quarter big stops
Auburn drove to the Georgia 12-yard in the second quarter, but on third-and-1 Smael Mondon stuffed Jarquez Hunter for no gain on his run up the middle out of the shot gun, pistol formation, and on fourth down it was UGA inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson cutting down Hunter on another run out of the shotgun with 1:18 left in the half.
Stop the run
Smart’s defensive message at halftime was blunt, per his Georgia Radio Network interview: “Stop the run.”
Auburn rushed for 145 yards in the first half, 61 on a run by QB Payton Thorne in the first quarter that led to a Tigers’ field goal.
Auburn finished with 219 yards rushing, netting on 74 in the second half.
UGA entered the game allowing 87 yards rushing per game.
Beck’s big throw
Facing a third-and-7 at the Auburn 15 with his team down 10-0 in the second quarter, Beck took a hit while releasing an on target throw to Rara Thomas that gained 10 yards.
The Bulldogs scored their first touchdown two plays later on a 2-yard Daijun Edwards run, capping an 11-play, 56-yard drive.
Mekhi Mews sparked the Bulldogs’ first TD drive with a 41-yard kick return to the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line.
From there, it was a pair of pass catchers turned running backs, as Brock Bowers played the role of fullback on third-and-2, taking the ball 3 yards up the middle to Auburn 32 on the final play of the first quarter to get a first down.
Converted receiver Dillon Bell broke off 14- and 5-yard gains running the ball on the first two plays of the second quarter as the Bulldogs marched.
Smart pointed to missed opportunities in the first half, and one came when Beck missed on what could have been a touchdown pass on the first play of Georgia’s second drive, overthrowing Delp after the UGA tight end had gotten behind the defense on a seam route.
One play later, Beck forced a pass over the middle that Auburn’s Jaylin Simpson intercepted, wrestling it away from Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint as the players fell to the ground at the UGA 48.
The Tigers, already up 3-0, punched the ball into the end zone seven plays later on Jarquez Hunter’s 5-yard run to go up 10-0.
Auburn held a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, only the fourth time in Smart’s 8-year tenure leading Georgia that the Bulldogs trailed by double-digits after the opening 15 minutes and the fourth time in the past two seasons they were down double digits in a game.
The Bulldogs trailed Ohio State and Missouri by double digits last season before rallying to win and were behind South Carolina 14-3 at halftime earlier this season.
Auburn Greats On Hand
There was no shortage of former Tiger athletic greats in the house, with two-sport star Bo Jackson leading the list as Auburn’s 1983 SEC Championship Team was honored. Auburn national championship game quarterback Cam Newton was on hands, as were baseball star Frank Thomas and basketball star Charles Barkley.