ATLANTA — No. 4 Georgia leads Georgia Tech 17-7 at halftime in the Bulldogs’ last regular season game at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. Here are some observations from the Red & Black:
A tale of two special teams
Georgia had a positive first quarter and rougher second quarter on special teams, a unit head coach Kirby Smart consistently emphasizes.
First-quarter highlights included a 52-yard punt by Jake Camarda, 49-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship and a productive punt return, but Dominick Blaylock’s muffed punt in the second quarter set Georgia Tech up in the red zone and resulted in a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets had yet to earn a first down before that point.
Blaylock started the game well. The freshman set the Bulldogs’ second drive up at the Georgia Tech 36-yard line after a 29-yard punt return.
Despite the favorable field position off Blaylock’s punt return, Georgia failed to earn a first down, so it turned to Blankenship. The 2019 Lou Groza Award semifinalist sailed a 49-yard field goal attempts through the uprights to get Georgia on the board early in the first quarter. Blankenship missed a field goal attempt from 42 yards out just before the half.
Georgia Tech successfully recovered an onside kick after its touchdown, as the ball bounced off the hands of Georgia’s Prather Hudson and into the grip of Georgia Tech’s Jaylon King. The Yellow Jackets were unable to move the ball and punted on the ensuing drive.
Offense finds rhythm
The offense struggled to get much going early, accumulating 4 yards in its first two possessions. Georgia recorded two consecutive 3-and-outs in its first two possessions before driving down the field for a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter.
Jake Fromm started off with four consecutive incompletions before connecting with Tyler Simmons on a 25-yard reception to set up a 2-yard touchdown for running back Brian Herrien. Fromm ended the half going 8-of-18 for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The offense then pieced together a six-play, 77-yard drive in under two minutes that ended in a 20-yard touchdown reception for tight end Charlie Woerner. It was the senior’s first trip to the end zone in his last regular season game at Georgia.
Georgia drove down the field once more just before halftime, capping off a 12-play, 55-yard drive with a missed field goal attempt by Blankenship.
D’Andre Swift led the Bulldogs’ rushing attack, earning 52 yards on seven attempts, but fumbled the ball on Georgia’s 42-yard line. The turnover ended in a failed Georgia Tech field goal attempt.
Defense continues dominance
Georgia had few problems early defending the new Georgia Tech offense under first-year head coach Geoff Collins. The defense held Georgia Tech to six consecutive 3-and-outs in the Yellow Jackets’ first six drives and gave up three first downs.
Georgia Tech’s lone touchdown in the second quarter came after Blaylock’s muffed punt set its offense up on the Georgia 17-yard line. The Yellow Jackets’ missed field goal attempt came after Swift’s fumble.
The Yellow Jackets ended the half with 75 yards, accumulating 66 on the ground and only 9 in the air. Monty Rice, the Bulldogs’ leading tackler on the season, led the way once again with eight in the first half.