Georgia defensive back Richard LeCounte (2) runs with the ball after making an interception. The University of Georgia Bulldogs lead Missouri by a score of 16-0 at the half on Nov. 9, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Ryan Cameron, rcameron@randb.com

Georgia’s defense hasn’t allowed a single point inside Sanford Stadium since Oct. 12. In their 27-0 win over Missouri, the Bulldogs successfully executed their third shutout of the season and second shutout in a row at home.

The last time Georgia has had three shutouts in a single year was in 1981.

Against Missouri, the defense’s shining moment came with minutes left in the fourth quarter on a goal-line stand. Georgia sensed a shutout in the works, but Missouri marched down field nonetheless.

The Tigers lined up on first down at Georgia’s four-yard line and rushed for three more. On second down, Monty Rice stepped up with a tackle for loss of three yards nailing running back Dawson Downing back to the four-yard line.

“We were running a stunt and my teammates sacrificed and I was able to come off the edge and make a play,” Rice said. “It’s pretty fulfilling, that’s my second since my freshman year.”

This brought up an important lesson for the defense this season.

“A big thing in this game is sacrificing for your brothers,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s a lot of guys up front that knocked the ball back and kind of freed [Rice] up.”

On the third and fourth downs of the drive, both of Missouri’s passes fell incomplete. By keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, Georgia continued its streak of being the only team in the nation yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

Rushing touchdowns were on Georgia’s mind coming into this matchup after handing the Tigers four last season.

“We’re reaping the benefits on defense from all the frustration of last year,” Smart said.

Richard LeCounte added to the defense’s performance forcing Georgia’s only turnover of the game in impactful fashion. LeCounte picked off a pass from Missouri’s back-up quarterback, Taylor Powell, at the Georgia 11-yard line. LeCounte returned it for 71 yards, put on the spiked shoulder pads on the sidelines and was deemed “Savage.” To add to the moment, LeCounte jumped over teammate Quay Walker to tack on the extra yards.

“Richard’s a ball hog,” Smart said. “He’s got really good ball skills, [he was a] great basketball player in high school. I thought it was going to be an overthrow and it went up and he’s got sticky hands [so] he grabbed it.”

The defensive attack was led by Tae Crowder who had seven total tackles. Crowder is now the second in total tackles this season and led the defense to play all the way until the last down of the game when freshman Lewis Cine made the final tackle.

“We pride ourselves on not letting our opponents do much of anything offensively,” LeCounte said.

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