Hanging around in a relatively close two-score game, No. 24 Auburn still harbored hope of pulling off yet another comeback in SEC play and winning the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry early in the fourth quarter.
Tailback D’Andre Swift however, had other ideas.
The speedy sophomore from above the Mason-Dixon Line left his indelible mark on one of the sport’s best rivalries by dashing 77 yards to pay dirt between the hedges to help No. 5 Georgia secure a 27-10 victory on Saturday night and make the improving Bulldogs look even more dangerous ahead of their showdown with Alabama in a few weeks.
Swift, who hails from Philadelphia, was a dynamic threat in all phases of the game and finished with 186 yards rushing (and that one TD run) to go along with a team-high four catches and 43 yards receiving. His incredible, weaving runs may have been the highlight of the night for the Bulldogs offense but fellow back Elijah Holyfield wasn’t too shabby at all himself as a guy who had no issues running between the tackles on his way to 93 yards on the ground.
Both players’ efforts kept the clock moving and took plenty of pressure off quarterback Jake Fromm, who had another efficient night with 193 yards passing, two scores and an interception. His two touchdown throws in particular were pretty impressive in their own right, one on a short toss across the field to Tyler Simmons and another just before halftime — on fourth down, no less — to a streaking Terry Godwin, who took it 38 yards to the house.
Even backup QB Justin Fields got into the game and was allowed, much to the crowd’s delight in Athens, to throw the ball a bit against a good defense and completed two passes for 20 yards.
Things were close for much of the first half between the two rivals but the Tigers offense never could hit another gear to make things interesting. Signal-caller Jarrett Stidham threw for only 163 yards, starting quick but fading as the game wore on. Fellow member of the backfield JaTarvious Whitlow was actually the one to throw for a touchdown but running the ball proved to be a problem all around for Gus Malzhan’s crew as the team couldn’t muster much offense at all after the first quarter.
The game, let’s face it, didn’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things. UGA has already locked up the SEC East Division title and a rematch against Alabama, while Auburn is only playing spoiler down the stretch in the middle of another disappointing campaign on the Plains. The Bulldogs remain in running for another College Football Playoff bid with just one loss though and should continue to sit just outside the top four as they play out the string of the regular season.
Perhaps the bigger question the team might have answered on Saturday night though, was that with Swift coming along and others stepping up on both sides the ball, this Georgia team continues to improve with each passing week and are looking like a stiff test for the top-ranked Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium once again in a few weeks.