The highly-touted Georgia defense nearly gave away a victory in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive week, escaping its inaugural SEC meeting against Texas A&M with a 19-13 win on senior day in Sanford Stadium.
Last week against Auburn, Georgia posted a dominant performance for three quarters before allowing a close game in the fourth and saw the same result against the Aggies. But once again, the defense held its opponent from earning the last-minute win.
The Aggies scored their first touchdown in the fourth quarter off a 10 play, 75-yard drive highlighted by an effective passing game from quarterback Kellen Mond. The score put the Aggies within six points of the Bulldogs with 11:16 left in the game.
Texas A&M rallied once again in its ensuing drive but was stifled by a 10-yard sack from senior defensive lineman Tyler Clark. The Aggies were unable to get another first down in that drive after the sack and punted the ball back to Georgia with 4:26 to go.
First-year defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s unit has been highlighted by its collective strength as opposed to rallying behind a single player, and the strategy has paid off.
Before the fourth quarter, Georgia continued its defensive dominance. The Aggies’ first drive after halftime ended with a fumble recovered by safety Richard LeCounte. It was the junior’s third fumble recovery this season and his second in consecutive games.
Georgia also continued its havoc-wreaking goals on defense. Defensive lineman Jordan Davis sacked Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the first half, and the Bulldogs ended the game with four tackles for loss from defensive back Mark Webb, Clark, Davis and linebacker Monty Rice.
Georgia’s defense suffocated Texas A&M’s ground game and held the Aggies to minus 9 rushing yards in the first half. The Aggies were never able to establish the run and finished the night with minus 1 yard on 20 carries between two rushers.
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller ran for 7 yards and mobile quarterback Mond followed him with minus 8 rushing yards. Cordarrian Richardson, the Aggies’ third leading rusher this season, didn’t take a snap at running back.
Georgia forced four 3-and-outs. Texas A&M finished the game with 274 total yards, and the Bulldogs forced the Aggies to punt seven times. The defense kept Texas A&M out of the end zone until its fourth-quarter touchdown, and the Aggies didn’t find it again.
Heading into the matchup with Texas A&M, Georgia led the SEC in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. It ranked within the Football Bowl Subdivision top-six in each category. Still, the Bulldogs have a long way to go with maintaining their lead in the final 15 minutes with a likely matchup against LSU’s high-powered offense in the SEC championship game looming.