Points were at a premium as you would expect in Jacksonville at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and No. 7 Georgia can thank No. 9 Florida for their hospitality as a few turnovers and ill-advised plays resulted in the Bulldogs taking a 13-7 lead into halftime of this SEC East clash.
The Gators otherwise were the better team in the first half as they posted 4.7 yards per play going into the break and looked like they had the better of the two defenses as well. However they took a bizarre delay of game — for a player who didn’t cover up knees with pads — that extended one drive for Georgia and led to a field goal while setting up another score when Jordan Scarlett fumbled at his own 13 yard line. Mix in an interception from Feleipe Franks and it was not the most crisply executed of rivalry games for Dan Mullen’s side early on.
UF did settle in eventually to at least keep things close though. Franks wound up throwing for only 49 yards but started to get things going with his legs, rushing for 14 more on the ground and punching in the team’s only score from just beyond the goal line. Scarlett had 44 yards rushing while Lamical Perine added another 38 hard-fought yards.
Interestingly, Emory Jones, the Gators freshman dual-threat QB and a Georgia native, did enter in the first quarter but didn’t do much beyond rushing three times for four yards in an interesting change of pace package.
As for Kirby Smart’s team, UGA did show flashes of breaking out of their offensive slump with a late drive as time was ticking down in the second quarter but got a little too cute in a few situations earlier in the game. Jake Fromm was an efficient 8-of-10 for 97 yards, plus a beautiful touchdown throw to Jeremiah Holloman to take advantage of one of those UF turnovers.
Running the ball wasn’t super easy for either side but the Bulldogs’ tailbacks did manage 73 total yards and will likely look to boost that number up considerably in the second half.
It should make for a fascinating finish in Jacksonville as the winner takes control of the SEC East and will likely find themselves back in the thick of the College Football Playoff race when the selection committee releases their rankings on Tuesday. It’s been a bit uneven so far for the two rivals which will make things all the more interesting when both return to the field.