Bennett leads No. 2 Georgia in home opener
ATHENS, Ga. (Georgia Athletics) — Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV completed his first five passes, for 245 yards and four touchdowns, and the No. 2-ranked Georgia football team was rolling early Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 56-7 win over UAB at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia’s return to Dooley Field for the first time since Nov. 21, 2020, was about as triumphant as it could get. Saturday’s home opener was at full capacity and there was much to cheer about from the very outset.
Bennett, the redshirt senior starting for the sixth time in his career, in place of junior JT Daniels, completed a 73-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage. He hit wide-open sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Burton on the strike, setting the tone for the day. Four minutes later, after a stop by the Georgia (2-0) defense, Bennett connected with junior running back Kenny McIntosh for a 12-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 10:17 left in the first quarter.
Bennett finished the game 10 of 12 passing for 288 yards, with TD throws of 73, 12, 89, 61 and 9 yards. The five-touchdown game by Bennett, all coming in the first half, tied him with five others for the school record for touchdown passes in a game.
On Georgia’s third score, Bennett connected with freshman tight end Brock Bowers for an 89-yard touchdown up the right side. After catching a team-high six passes in the opener against Clemson, Bowers caught three more, for 107 yards and two touchdowns, against the Blazers (1-1).
Bennett added a 61-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wideout Arian Smith early in the second quarter, making him 5-for-5 for 245 yards and four TDs in the game. Georgia’s final points of the first half came on yet another Bennett touchdown pass. Set up by a 33-yard punt return by junior Kearis Jackson, the Bulldogs started the drive at the UAB 17. On third down at the 9, Bennett again connected with Bowers for a score, putting the Bulldogs up 35-0 with 1:13 left in the half.
Senior running back James Cook put the Bulldogs up 42-0 with 8:42 to play in the third, scoring in a 14-yard run to the right. Midway through the period, quarterback Carson Beck hit fellow redshirt freshman Justin Robinson for a 12-yard score that made it 49-0 — the first career TD for them both.
Georgia’s offense ended up with 376 yards through the air and 163 on the ground. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense followed up its stellar showing in the opener against Clemson by holding the Blazers to 174 yards and 1-for-11 on third down.
Junior safety Lewis Cine had an interception in the first quarter and redshirt freshman cornerback Kelee Ringo picked off a pass on a deep ball in the third for his first career interception. Freshman linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson not only got his first career interception in the fourth quarter, he also returned the ball 20 yards four a touchdown, putting the Bulldogs ahead 56-0 with 10:14 remaining.
The Blazers got on the scoreboard, and scored the first touchdown the Bulldogs have allowed this season, with a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
At halftime, Georgia celebrated the 1980 national championship team, which was unable to get together for its 40th-anniversary celebration last season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Legendary coach Vince Dooley was out on the field with the stars and supporting characters alike, as well as much of that team’s coaching staff.
The Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium next Saturday, Sept. 18, for their SEC opener against South Carolina. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.