JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Unlikely, perhaps; Ugly, maybe so.
Nevertheless, when so much is at stake, a trip to Atlanta in the balance, it doesn't matter how you look. Just get the job done.
That basically sums up what was an exhilarating yet exhausting 17-9 win over No. 3 Florida, putting the Bulldogs in the driver's seat for their second straight SEC East crown.
Leading 10-9, a 45-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Malcolm Mitchell put the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) up 17-9 with 7:11 to play.
But there was still plenty of time to go.
In fact, the Gators (7-1, 5-1) were driving for a potential score when Jeff Driskel hit Jordan Reed inside the Bulldog 10, only to have Jarvis Jones knocked the ball loose.The ball bounded forward into the end zone, with [db]Bacarri Rambo covering it like a glove, enabling Georgia to run out the clock.
It was the first time since 1988 the Gators have not scored a touchdown against the Bulldogs.
Leading 7-6 at the half, Georgia failed to move after taking the third-quarter kick, but it wasn't long until Damian Swann gave the offense another chance when he intercepted Driskel, returning the football to the Florida 35.
Georgia had to settle for 29-yard field goal by Marshal Morgan to extend its lead to 10-6.
Turnovers were definitely the story of this game.
While the Bulldogs lost the ball three times - all on first-half interceptions by Murray, Florida was even more giving.
The Gators turned the football over six times, all before the third quarter was complete.
But despite all this goodwill, the Bulldogs weren't able take advantage and headed into the fourth still holding a 10-6 lead until Caleb Sturgis' 50-yard field goal to cut the lead to one with 9:41 to go in the game.
That's when the Bulldog offense went to work.
Instead of nursing the one-point lead, Georgia came out aggressive, getting three completions by Murray before facing a third-and-five at the Gator 45.
That's when Murray found Mitchell, hitting the Valdosta sophomore with a short pass and after juking a defender, cut right to complete the 45-yard touchdown play.
Saturday's game certainly got off to an emotionally charged start when Bulldog inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti shoved Gator strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman who pushed Bulldog Malcolm Mitchell as the teams were running onto the field.
That was just the beginning.
Georgia's defense - which was called out by safety Shawn Williams earlier in the week for being "soft," was anything but during Florida's possession of the game.
The Bulldogs came out focused and intense, forcing a pair of fumbles, the second of which was recovered by Jarvis Jones at the Gator 20-yard line.
Three plays later, Gurley rolled in from the 10, but was penalized for excessive celebration, a 15-yard penalty which was enforced on the kickoff.
No matter. For the second -straight possession the Bulldog defense, held this time using a great sideline tackle by Williams to stop a fourth-and-short run.
Murray definitely owed the defense a debt of gratitude after an atrocious first half which saw the junior throw a trio of interceptions, including one when the Bulldogs were driving inside the Gator 10.
Florida's Sturgis converted a pair of field goals for Murray's troubles, but the Gators continued to have turnover troubles of their own.
After fumbling twice, Florida appeared ready to take the lead late in the second, getting to the Georgia 5 before Rambo saved the Bulldogs by intercepting Driskel in the end zone as the half came to an end.
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