Todd Gurley scored twice in his first game in more than a month, helping Georgia beat rival Florida 23-20 on Saturday.
Gurley returned from an ankle injury and totaled 187 yards, finding the end zone on a 5-yard run and a 73-yard reception. The Bulldogs scored on their first four possessions, taking a 20-0 lead that looked like it would be enough against one of the Southeastern Conference’s most anemic offenses.
But the Gators rallied, taking advantage of a fumble, a safety and some questionable play calls to seize momentum in weird, wacky and chippy game.
Florida cut it to 23-20 early in the fourth, putting Georgia on its heels after a failed fourth-down run followed by a huge defensive penalty. But the Gators faltered down the stretch.
Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) won its third in a row in the series, the program’s first three-game winning streak against Florida since 1989. This one kept the Bulldogs in contention in the Eastern Division.
The Gators (4-4, 3-3) have their second three-game losing streak in coach Will Muschamp’s three years, raising speculation about his future in Gainesville.
Muschamp fell to 0-7 in the series. He was 0-4 as a Georgia player between 1991 and 1994 and now he’s 0-3 as Florida. Possibly making things worse for Muschamp, he was seen screaming back at a fan as he left the field.
Georgia players and coaches were celebrating all around – something they’ve rarely been able to do in this series. Florida won 18 of 21 meetings before the Bulldogs started their current streak.
This had significantly less at stake than many of those, with both unranked teams entering the game riding multigame losing streaks. It was the first time that had happened since 1926.
Georgia, though, looked nothing like the same team that lost consecutive games to Missouri and Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs scored on the game’s opening possession and then shocked Florida when Aaron Murray found Gurley over the middle for a 73-yard catch and run. The Bulldogs piled on from there, making it 23-3 with a 32-yard field goal just before halftime.
Florida looked down and out.
But Georgia helped the Gators get back in it.
Arthur Lynch dropped what he thought was a screen pass near the sideline. Officials ruled it a lateral and a fumble. Lynch didn’t realize the call and left the ball on the ground. Florida’s Leon Orr scooped it up and returned it to the 13-yard line. Mack Brown scored two plays later, cutting Georgia’s lead to 23-10.
Loucheiz Purifoy sacked Murray in the end zone two series later, making it 23-12. Tyler Murphy, playing with a sprained right throwing shoulder, had two long runs on the ensuing drive, the second one a 14-yard TD scamper. Murphy hooked up with Clay Burton for the 2-point conversion – and it was a different game.
Georgia tried to reclaim the momentum, but Gurley failed to move the chains on a fourth-and-1 play. Florida did little on the next series, but Georgia gifted the Gators more life by having 12 men on the field on a fourth-and-2 play.
Nonetheless, Florida floundered as it has in recent weeks. Not only did linebacker Neiron Ball remove his helmet on the stop, drawing a 15-yard penalty, but the offense stumbled as usual.
Equally troubling for the Gators were two missed field goals.
Murray completed 16 of 25 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown for Georgia. Gurley had 100 yards rushing and 87 receiving.
Murphy was 13-of-29 passing for 174 yards, and was sacked four times. Kelvin Taylor, making his first career start, ran 20 times for 76 yards.