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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Turnovers, mistakes prove costly as Georgia defeats Florida in Jacksonville

<p>Running back Jordan Scarlett fumbled on his first rushing attempt of the afternoon. He ended the day with 56 yards on eight carries. </p>

Running back Jordan Scarlett fumbled on his first rushing attempt of the afternoon. He ended the day with 56 yards on eight carries. 

UF running back Jordan Scarlett probably wishes he could re-do his first carry of the day.

The redshirt junior barrelled through the Georgia defense, refusing to go down until he reached the first-down marker two yards in front of him. Then he went for more.

Scarlett powered through more defenders until one managed to drag him down at the 42-yard line, but as he was falling, Bulldogs linebacker Monty Rice knocked the ball loose. UGA safety Richard LeCounte recovered the ball and returned it to the 13-yard line, failing to reach the endzone only due to UF quarterback Feleipe Franks’ diving stop.

Georgia scored three plays later on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Jake Fromm to Jeremiah Holloman and quickly amassed a 10-0 lead nine minutes into the first quarter.

Florida’s turnovers handicapped it early on, but the mistakes that persisted throughout the game allowed No. 7 Georgia to soundly trounce the No. 9 Gators 36-17 on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.

“I think it’s just us having a mindset of, you know, being a little bit too confident,” Scarlett said, “and not really going into executing all the way, paying attention to detail like we always preach.”

Scarlett’s turnover was just one of three. UF’s next one came on the following drive when Franks underthrew receiver Josh Hammond. Underthrew as in Hammond never stood a chance of catching the ball as it was perfectly thrown to star linebacker Tyrique McGhee.

The turnover didn’t result in any points for Georgia, but it did end a drive where Florida had marched into UGA’s side of the field for the first time of the game and could have possibly cost it some points.

“Yeah I mean I got to be a lot better,” Franks said. “The numbers are right here. It's not good enough to win a big time game like this.”

The final turnover came in the third quarter after the Bulldogs downed the Gators at the one-yard line off a punt. Franks scrambled on the first play to bring his team out of the endzone but ended up fumbling as he got hit.

It only ended up as a field goal for Georgia -- who couldn’t score the touchdown despite running six plays from within the five-yard line -- but it further increased the gap between the two teams Florida was trying to close.

“I don't think we played well at all,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “You get into some big game situations right there and you gotta go execute.”

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Those mistakes stifled the Gators’ offense. Franks threw for a season-low 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Scarlett and running back Lamical Perine combined for 118 yards rushing. And no Florida receiver eclipsed more than three receptions or had over 38 yards.

The defense also had its fair share of mishaps. Missed tackles allowed Bulldogs running backs Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift to rack up 175 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Fromm picked apart UF’s secondary following cornerback C.J. Henderson’s early injury. Fromm connected with tight end Isaac Nauta four consecutive times in the final drive of the first half, effectively moving UGA downfield in a matter of seconds. Nauta finished the game with five catches for 73 yards, both game highs.

Holloman found success against cornerback C.J. McWilliams in the endzone with two touchdowns. He finished with four catches for 48 yards.

“I’ve said for the most part, every game I think we’ve played better from one week to the next,” Mullen said. “I can’t say that tonight. So, we need to get better by next Saturday.”

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

Running back Jordan Scarlett fumbled on his first rushing attempt of the afternoon. He ended the day with 56 yards on eight carries. 

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