Bulldogs blank Hogs for second straight SEC shutout

ATHENS, Ga. (UGA Athletics) — The No. 2-ranked Georgia football team used its stifling defense, a powerful run game and some special teams fireworks to take down No. 8 Arkansas, 37-0, Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. It was the Bulldogs’ second SEC shutout in as many games after winning 62-0 at Vanderbilt last week.

In the Bulldogs’ second top-10 match of the season, after opening up against Clemson in a top-five clash, Georgia’s stout defense clamped down on the Razorbacks from the outset and never let the Hogs get going. Arkansas didn’t reach 100 yards of total offense until the final minute of the third quarter and finished with 156 yards, while the run-first Bulldogs ended up with 273 on the ground and 345 total yards.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett was making his second start of the season in place of the injured JT Daniels. In his first, against UAB in the Bulldogs’ home opener on Sept. 11, Bennett put on a show for the ages, completing 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and tying a school record with five touchdowns. Against the Razorbacks, Bennett was mainly tasked with handing the ball to Georgia’s vast supply of running backs.

Zamir White led Georgia’s ground attack with 16 carries for 68 yards and two rushing touchdowns. James Cook had 87 yards on 12 carries, and Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh combined for 105 yards on 23 attempts, and Milton scored on a 1-yard run. Bennett, meanwhile, was an efficient 7 of 11 passing for 72 yards. Ladd McConkey led the receivers with three catches for 27 yards.

Just like it has in its previous SEC games, the Bulldogs got off to a running start. On the first play from scrimmage, Bennett faked a handoff to White and ran right for 9 yards. Another fake handoff to White and a quick throw to McConkey netted 16 yards. The Bulldogs were on the move and the nine-play drive ended on a 3-yard touchdown run by White, putting the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 10:46 to play in the first quarter.

Arkansas’ first possession went perfectly, at least for the Georgia defense. A false start backed the Hogs up 5 yards, as did a second false start. Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker teamed up for a stop after a short gain on first down. Wyatt then sacked K.J. Jefferson for a 6-yard lass on second down, and Walker broke up a pass on third-and-24.

The Georgia ground game ate up the yards on the Bulldogs’ second drive. The first six plays were all runs, by four different backs, and the drive ended on Kendall Milton’s 1-yard run, putting the Bulldogs up 14-0 with 4:34 left in the opening quarter.

Georgia’s special teams produced the Bulldogs’ second touchdown. After the defense stuffed another Razorback possession, forcing a punt on fourth-and-9 from the Hogs’ 8-yard line, the Bulldogs’ Dan Jackson got free and blocked the Reid Bauer attempt, and White recovered the ball in the end zone for a score and a 21-0 advantage with 2:17 to play in the quarter.

The Bulldogs have outscored South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas a combined 70-6 in the first quarter this season.

The Bulldogs’ only points the rest of the half were a 46-yard field goal by Jack Podlesny with 7:38 to play in the second. Georgia had 139 rushing yards at the half while the Bulldog defense had held the Hogs to just 78 yards of total offense. This was the fourth time in five games that Georgia’s defense has held its opponent scoreless at the half.

A defensive stop — the Razorbacks lost 7 yards on their first possession of the third quarter — and a 10-play drive that ended with a 30-yard Podlesny field goal, put Georgia in front 27-0 with 10:05 to play in the third quarter.

White got his third touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 15-yard scamper to cap an 11-play and 93-yard drive, making it 34-0 Bulldogs. On Georgia’s ensuing drive, after another Arkansas possession lost yardage, McIntosh ran for 15 yards on fourth-and-1 at the Hogs’ 38. Podlesney capped that drive with a 37-yard field goal that put the Bulldogs up 37-0, with 3:46 to play in the game.

Wyatt led the defense with six tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Adam Anderson had five tackles and 1.5 for loss, and as a team, Georgia got 7 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 4 sacks.

After Georgia’s touchdown drive to open the game, former Georgia All-American golfer Harris English was recognized on the field for his contributions in helping the U.S. Ryder Cup team defeat the European squad last weekend at Whistling Straits, Wis. During halftime, many of Georgia’s Olympians that competed in Tokyo this summer were celebrated, including swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who won gold and silver, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley.

Georgia also celebrated its 2021 Circle of Honor inductees: football’s All-American lineman Randy Johnson, legendary women’s basketball coach Andy Landers, NCAA-champion swimmer Robert Margalis and softball All-American Kim Wendland.

The Bulldogs return to the road next week when they head to the Plains to take on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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