STARKVILLE — The Mississippi state defense was hoping to make a statement against the state’s No. 1 team at home on Saturday night.
Instead, Georgia kept its unbeaten season alive with a 45-19 win.
A key component in that win was UGA’s touchdown on the opening drive that gave the Red and Black Bulldogs an never-lost lead.
Here’s how Georgia set the tone for a win in Starkville by beating the MSU defense early.
Piece #1: First and 15th at Georgia 22. After a false start, Georgia advances five yards, the Bulldogs line up with tight end Darnell Washington on the line and tight end Brock Bowers on the outside. Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is on the left and Ladd McConkey is the only receiver on the right. Bowers waves over, but quarterback Stetson Bennett IV throws the ball past him to Rosemy-Jacksaint for a 10-yard gain. Despite the penalty, Georgia has already lined up with second-and-medium.
Game #2: Second and 5th in the Georgia 27. Georgia lines up the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Washington as an H-back and moves with pace. UGA snags the ball on the game clock with 33 seconds left, and Bennett fakes a handoff to running back Kenny McIntosh before finding Rosemy-Jacksaint on the left. The receiver grabs the first down marker and is pushed out of bounds at 39, moving the chains for Georgia.
Game #3: First and 10 at Georgia 39. Georgia brings both tight ends to the right side of the formation — Washington on the line and Bowers back — while McConkey and Rosemy-Jacksaint trade sides of the field. McIntosh takes the handoff and runs left for a 3-yard gain, taking him down with linebacker Nathaniel Watson and nose tackle Cameron Young. Watson now leads Mississippi state with 94 tackles this season.
Piece #4: Second and 7 at the Georgia 42. Bowers lines up in the left slot and Washington in the right slot while UGA goes four wide for the snap. McIntosh waves to the right plane, but Bennett throws over center to Bowers, who makes the catch a yard short of first-down territory and drags safety Collin Duncan wide into Mississippi State territory for a 15-yard gain. The star tight end finished with just five catches for 41 yards, a relatively quiet day.
Piece #5: First and 10 at Mississippi State 43. As Georgia picks up the pace again, Bennett throws over the top of the Bulldogs’ zone. He finds Washington in the open center at MSU 25, and UGA’s other star tight end reaches all the way down to 13. Georgia entered the red zone for the first time; the Bulldogs went 5 for 5 within the 20 with four touchdowns. Mississippi State, meanwhile, was 3-of-4 in trips to the red zone with two field goals and a turnover on downs.
Piece #6: First and 10 at MSU 13. Georgia rushes down the field to grab the football with 35 seconds left on the game clock. McIntosh finds a hole between the center and right guards and slices to the left of the approaching Duncan, leaping forward over the first-down mark. The 12-yard run gives Georgia’s offense first and goal.
Piece #7: First and goal at MSU 1. As close as Georgia is to the goal line, the Bulldogs can’t putt right away. UGA huddles together, quickly breaking the circle and snatching the ball, with a few seconds remaining on the game clock. Disaster almost strikes when Bennett drops the snap, but he recovers it at the 1-yard line. A potential opportunity for the state of Mississippi to force a key turnover is quickly passing.
Piece #8: Second and goal at MSU 1. Georgia uses standout defenseman Jalen Carter at fullback in the goal-line situation, but Mississippi State’s run defense wins this round. McIntosh runs behind Carter, but linebacker Tyrus Wheat hits Carter, throws the block and goes after McIntosh. DeShawn Page and Wheat finish tackle for loss; Weizen would add an impressive interception from Bennett later in the game.
Piece #9: Third and goal at MSU 2. UGA deploys a tight formation with Washington at H-back and Carter back at full-back. Bennett fakes a handoff to Kendall Milton as Bowers dumps the block of wheat and slides wide open to the left side of the endzone. It’s an easy pitch and catch from there as Bennett finds his star tight end. The touchdown gives Georgia a 7-0 lead, and the UGA defense did the work from there to escape Starkville with a win.
Theo DeRosa covers Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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