Fromm leads No. 3 Georgia past Middle Tennessee 49-7
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Kirby Smart believes his Georgia players won’t be lulled into complacency by three blowout wins.
The Bulldogs won their coach’s trust with their hard work preparing for Middle Tennessee.
Jake Fromm threw three touchdown passes and Elijah Holyfield ran for 100 yards, each playing only the first half, as No. 3 Georgia overwhelmed Middle Tennessee 49-7 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were impressive in their final preparation for a stretch of seven straight Southeastern Conference games.
“We know a fourth-quarter kind of game is coming,” Smart said, referring to next week’s visit to Missouri.
So far, the fourth quarter has been reserved for backups.
Georgia opened its SEC schedule with a runaway 41-17 win at South Carolina last week after opening with a 45-0 rout of Austin Peay. Georgia (3-0) has started strong after winning its first SEC title since 2005 last year and losing to Alabama in the national championship game.
Smart was impressed by the Bulldogs’ hard work in practice even though they were big favorites against the Blue Raiders of Conference USA.
“We’ve created a standard the last couple of years, and now we’re owning it with players holding other players accountable,” Smart said.
There were clouds but no rain in the game that was moved up to a noon kickoff due to Tropical Storm Florence. The game originally was scheduled to be played Saturday night.
Georgia led 42-7 at halftime as the Bulldogs turned it into a rout quickly.
Freshman Justin Fields ran 15 yards for a touchdown late in the first half and threw a touchdowns pass in relief of Fromm. Jeremiah Holloman caught three passes for 90 yards, including an 11-yard scoring pass from Fromm in the first quarter. Holloman was one of five Georgia wide receivers to combine for six touchdowns.
Mecole Hardman had a touchdown catch and a 70-yard punt return for a score, and Tyler Simmons had a 56-yard touchdown run.
Holyfield had a 66-yard gain as he ran for 100 yards on eight carries. He became the first player to run for 100 yards this season for Georgia, which continued to use a committee approach to replace the 2017 senior tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.
“It’s like a sign of a pretty good day,” Holyfield said of his first career 100-yard game. “So I had a pretty good day.”
Middle Tennessee was held to 288 yards.
“They’re bigger than us, faster than us,” said Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill. “We couldn’t create any separation at receiver. There were no openings. … That’s why they’re ranked where they’re ranked.”
Brent Stockstill, the coach’s son, said last week the Blue Raiders would need perfection to beat Georgia. That was asking too much.
“Obviously we hate to lose,” said Brent Stockstill. “We kind of knew we were outmatched coming into it.”
Fromm was sharp, completing 10 of 12 passes for 128 yards. The sophomore almost committed a costly mistake on Georgia’s second possession when he held the ball too long, was almost sacked for a safety and fumbled near the Georgia goal line. Right guard Ben Cleveland recovered the fumble at the 2, setting up a punt.
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders committed far too many mistakes to have a chance for their first win in 16 tries against a Top 25 team. Most frustrating was an inability to score after taking possession at the Georgia 36 in the first quarter. Stockstill was sacked by Deandre Baker on third down before his fourth-down pass was picked off by Baker.
Georgia: Georgia showed good focus against an underdog opponent and again showed impressive depth, especially at receiver. Holloman, who had a 65-yard catch, and Simmons showed their big-play potential and Hardman had his third touchdown catch in three games.
Following a review, Middle Tennessee linebacker Khalil Brooks was called for targeting and ejected after leading with his helmet on a second-quarter hit that knocked off Fields’ helmet. The drive ended when Fields dropped back to pass before keeping the ball on the 15-yard scoring run.
D’Andre Swift started at tailback but didn’t return following the Bulldogs’ first two possessions. Swift stood on the sideline after running for 12 yards on four carries. Smart said he just wanted to look at other running backs.
The Bulldogs strengthened their hold on their No. 3 spot in the Top 25. Georgia topped 40 points for the third straight game, again proving itself to be worthy of its high ranking.
Middle Tennessee has a week off before playing at home against Florida Atlantic in a Conference USA game on Sept. 29.
Georgia goes to Missouri next week.