COLUMBIA, Mo. — With 11:29 remaining in the third quarter of Georgia’s 43-29 win over Missouri on Saturday, junior receiver Riley Ridley made a big play.
It was first-and-10, and Georgia had the ball on the Missouri 33-yard line. At the time, the Bulldogs led 20-7, only a two-score advantage. Ridley had already caught two passes from Fromm on the drive, including one that gave Georgia a first down and put the Bulldogs in Missouri territory.
On the first down play at the 33-yard line, Fromm lofted a pass to Ridley on the right side of the field as Ridley ran a corner route toward the sideline. Ridley leaped up above Missouri cornerback Adam Sparks to catch the ball as Sparks fell to the side, allowing Ridley to turn and run the ball into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown that put Georgia ahead 27-7.
“I was focused from the jump, from the start of the play, and I just executed,” Ridley said.
The touchdown was a significant one, as Missouri would go on to score a touchdown on the next drive to keep the game close.
That catch was not the only noteworthy one that Ridley made in the game, though. Ridley led the Bulldogs in receiving on Saturday, as he accumulated five catches for a total of 87 yards.
“I was pretty pleased as the game went along,” Ridley said. “It's pretty good when you work on things like that, and then are able to transition it to the game. I was really happy that I was able to score this week, and there's more to come.”
Ridley’s catch was also the first offensive touchdown of the game for Georgia. While the Bulldogs led 20-7 at halftime, one of their touchdowns had come on a fumble return and the other on a blocked punt return. The Georgia offense ultimately came to life in the second half after Ridley’s touchdown, scoring two more touchdowns and a field goal to put the game away.
Ridley finished just shy of a career high in receiving yards on Saturday. His career high came against Auburn in 2016, when he recorded three catches for 89 yards.
For his teammates, Ridley’s performance was a fulfillment of what they have expected from him all along.
“He came alive,” junior receiver Mecole Hardman said of Ridley. “We expect that from Riley. He does everything like that in practice, so for him not to do that, we'd be kind of upset with him, but he did what he's supposed to do.”
Early on, Ridley expressed a desire to get into the game and make plays, quarterback Jake Fromm said.
“He came ready to play today,” Fromm said. “After the first two drives, he definitely told me that too, so I had to start getting him involved.”
Ridley’s performance is another sign of the depth Georgia has in the receiving corps this season. Even with senior Terry Godwin being limited due to various injuries this season, three of Georgia’s receivers have already surpassed 100 receiving yards on the season, and many different players have contributed at the position so far. On Saturday, Georgia out gained Missouri in receiving yards, tallying 13 catches for 230 yards.
For Ridley, his performance on Saturday sends the confidence in his own game through the roof.
“Just knowing that my quarterback believes in me,” Ridley said. “Just knowing that he's not afraid to throw me the ball, and just executing.”