Dawgs down Gators
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It took three years, but Mark Richt finally found the formula for beating Urban Meyer.
Run it down the Gators' throats, and stop Tim Tebow.
That's a simple plan, but not usually an easy one.
On Saturday, Georgia made it look simple and easy.
The No. 20 Bulldogs (6-2, 5-2 SEC) upset No. 9 Florida (5-3, 4-3 SEC) 42-30 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Saturday night, topping the Gators for just the third time in the last 18 years.
"I saw it in (Richt's) eyes," Georgia cornerback Thomas Flowers said. "I could see it in everybody's eyes from the training staff to the equipment managers, you could just see they were fired up because everybody wanted to get rid of this streak of Florida winning."
Georgia redshirt freshman running back Knowshon Moreno paced the offensive attack, rushing 33 times for 188 yards and three scores against a normally stout Florida run defense.
Many expected Georgia, playing without senior running backs Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown, to test Florida's pass defense, which came into the game ranked last in the conference.
But Moreno's ability to shift around linemen and bowl over defensive backs changed everything.
"Knowshon was awesome tonight," Richt said.
Moreno punched in Georgia's first and last touchdowns, perhaps the two biggest statement plays of the game.
The first score, which put Georgia up 7-0 midway through the first quarter, caused a bench-clearing celebration.
The Bulldogs rushed the field like crazed pee-wee leaguers as penalty flags flew through the air.
The celebration, which, with subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, forced Georgia to kick off from its own 7.5-yard line, was weeks in the making.
"I told them if they didn't get a celebration penalty after our first score, all of them would be doing early-morning runs," Richt said. "I wanted to make sure we left this game with our hearts on the field."
The teams traded scores until the fourth quarter, when Moreno helped put the game away.
He carried 11 times to help run out the clock, including seven straight before Georgia got in the victory formation in the final minute.
Moreno's final score, a 3-yard run with 3:24 left, all but cinched the game.
His running also set up Matthew Stafford for a solid passing day as the sophomore tallied 84- and 53-yard touchdown passes while Florida crept up to defend the run.
"Every time we were in the red zone, we were scoring touchdowns tonight," Richt said. "I think we had a great plan by our staff, especially Coach (Mike) Bobo, but the players are the ones who really did a great job out there."
While Georgia moved at will, Florida just tried to keep up.
Sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow could not match the Bulldogs strike for strike as he battled a bruised right shoulder.
Influenced largely by six sacks, he ran for a career low -15 yards on 13 carries.
Meyer said Tebow's injury affected the game plan as fewer Tebow runs were called.
"It bothered me a little bit, but that's what off-season training is for -- toughness," said Tebow, who first suffered the injury at Kentucky on Oct. 20. "You're going to have bumps and bruises throughout the course of the year."
Georgia picked up on Tebow's new one-dimensional arsenal and blitzed at will and without any regard for his ability to scramble.
That kept Tebow from hitting speedy receivers Percy Harvin (two catches for 41 yards) and Andre Caldwell (four catches for 56 yards) for big-yardage, game-changing plays.
"We battled hard and played well at times," Meyer said. "It was a great game to watch, but hard game to lose."
Florida is all but out of the SEC East race now, and Georgia moves into a prime position with the winner of the Tennessee-South Carolina game at the top of the standings.
However, Georgia lost to both the Volunteers and the Gamecocks, so they do not hold any tiebreaking advantage.
Play of the Game: I'm going to cheat here and go with two plays. With 11:41 left in the game, Florida went for it on a fourth-and-two. Caldwell got the ball on an end around and looked to pitch to Harvin, but Harvin was blocked out of the way. Georgia's Rennie Curran stopped Caldwell three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Two plays later, Stafford hit Mikey Henderson on a 53-yard touchdown pass, putting Georgia up 35-24, a comfortable two-possession advantage.
Player of the Game: Moreno, and there is no debate. Again, he had 33 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Every time Georgia had the ball, everyone in the stadium knew who was getting the ball, and he still couldn't be stopped.
Up Next: Georgia hosts Troy next week and Florida hosts Vanderbilt.