The Florida (4-3, 3-3 SEC) Gator football team had not walked out of Everbank Field in Jacksonville with a win against the Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2) since 2010. But, on a chilly Saturday afternoon, the Gators’ rushing attack was red hot en route to a big 38-20 upset win over the 11th ranked Bulldogs.
Florida racks up 418 yards on the ground, the most in an SEC game since 1975. The dynamic rushing duo of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor combined to rush for 389 yards with both scoring two touchdowns as well.
Jones and Taylor became the first Florida teammates to top the century mark on the ground since Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey against Kentucky in 2011.
For the first time in his coaching tenure, Florida head coach Will Muschamp was able to finally take down his alma mater.
“I’m happy to win it,” Muschamp said with a smile. “It feels a lot better than the other side. I don’t think they’re going to induct me into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. I’m sure I’m on the ballot now. I’m just really happy, but I wish my father was here.”
Muschamp was more excited for his players.
“Just extremely proud of our players,” Muschamp said. “And I’m really happy for our fans. The Gator Nation gets to sit and enjoy that. It was great to see our side still full at the end. And for our fans to be able to enjoy and bask in that. I’m really happy for them as well and I appreciate their support.”
Georgia got on the board first as the Bulldogs marched 85 yards in nine plays that ended with a 39-yard touchdown run by running back Nick Chubb. The freshman totaled over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter, but only finished with 156 on the ground. He did have five catches for 59 yards and a score. He also had a costly fumble late in the third quarter that the Gators recovered.
In the second quarter, the Gators had a 78-yard drive that was halted at Georgia’s 21-yard line. On fourth-and-9, Florida lined up in field goal formation, but instead of kicking it, the holder Michael McNeely took the snap and ran through a huge hole on the right side and cruised into the end zone untouched to tie the score at 7-7. After that momentum changing trick play, the Gators went on to score 31 unanswered points before the Bulldogs would eventually score again.
“Our team got charged up a little bit on the fake field goal,” Muschamp said. “I think that they understood the aggressiveness that we were approaching the game with as a staff. They understood that, and it was executed very well by our players.”
The score wasn’t tied for long, as Florida ended up in the end zone again, this time to give them their first lead of the game and their first lead over Georgia since 2011. The Orange and Blue went 64 yards in less than two minutes. Running back Kelvin Taylor had a 44-yard run that put the Gators in the red zone. A few plays later, Taylor punched it in from two yards out to give the Gators a 14-7 lead with five minutes to go in the second quarter.
Florida took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The Gators received the second half kickoff and continued to run it right down the Bulldogs’ throats. The six-play, 73-yard opening drive was capped off by running back Matt Jones, who took a hand off and bounced outside and sprinted down the sidelines for a 44-yard touchdown to extend the Gator lead to 21-7 with just over 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
Florida would tack on three more points on their next drive as they methodically chewed up 56 more yards that concluded with a 21-yard field goal by kicker Frankie Velez.
A few drives later, the Bulldogs were forced to punt after Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. sacked Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason on third-and-7. Andre Debose fielded the short punt and took it 38 yards to the UGA 26. Five plays later, Matt Jones took a direct snap from the one yard line and pushed his way in to increase the lead to 31-7.
“That’s my brother,” Kelvin Taylor echoed about Jones. “No matter what we do on the field or off the field, that’s my bro. I love the guy, he’s a great team player and a great running back.”
However, Georgia would answer with an eight-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard pass to Nick Chubb. The ‘Dawgs attempted a two-point conversion, but failed, to keep the score at 31-13 in favor of Florida with 11 minutes to go in the game.
On Georgia’s next drive, they took it 68 yards all the way down to the UF two-yard line and were forced to go for it on fourth down. The ‘Dawgs turned it over on downs after Mason fired a strike to wide-receiver Michael Bennett in the back of the end zone, but Florida safety Marcus Maye ripped it out of Bennett’s arms.
The Gators took over and continued to do what they did all day — run the ball. After Florida worked their way to their own 35, Harris handed it off to Kelvin Taylor, who broke loose for a career long 65-yard touchdown. That TD run was the final nail in the coffin of the Gators’ three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
“We needed it bad,” Matt Jones said. “We came into this game with a head full of steam knowing they beat us three times in a row. And definitely with our coach, we needed a win for him too. We want to go to a bowl game so we really needed this win.”
Next up, Florida will continue SEC play, as they travel to Vanderbilt to take on the Commodores Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN 850 WRUF.
For audio of the above quotes, click below: