Georgia Wallops Oregon In Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Sept. 3, 2022

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 03: Ladd McConkey #84 of the Georgia Bulldogs scores a touchdown during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 3, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Today college football’s reigning champions began their season at home. The Georgia Bulldogs faced off against the Oregon Ducks today in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It was Georgia’s first game since their dramatic championship win against Alabama in January (their first national championship since 1980!).

Georgia scored first when quarterback Stetson Bennett IV found wide receiver Ladd McConkey for a touchdown. The receiver ended up scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown after catching the pass from Bennett. Georgia went up 7-0.

On a subsequent drive, Georgia tight end Darnell Washington set Twitter ablaze with some spectacular displays of size and skill. Washington, who is 6’7″ and 270 pounds, made a crucial catch and bulldozed his way to a first down. Shaking off one defender and hurdling over another, he picked up more yardage before finally being knocked out of bounds.

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Another tight end soon made his presence felt, as Brock Bowers dazzled with a huge catch and run. That came jut before a massive play by McConkey: running towards the end zone, he dove towards the goal line, bringing the Bulldogs to first and goal. Georgia was on the one-yard line by the end of the first quarter.

Five seconds into the second quarter, Bennett ran down the sideline, into the end zone, for a one-yard touchdown. Georgia led 14-0 with 14:55 to go in the second.

Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes in for a touchdown during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 3, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Oregon gained some momentum with a first-down run; they added 15 yards to the play when Georgia defensive back Christopher Smith got flagged for a horse-collar tackle. But Smith instantly redeemed himself when, on the very next play, he caught an interception. He returned the pick 22 yards, giving his Bulldogs the ball.

That led to a major moment for Georgia’s offense. Bennett took forever to throw, then got hit as he threw: Oregon’s Justin Flowe hit him head-on. Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell made the catch; 15 yards were added when Flowe got penalized for roughing the passer. The result was a 27-yard play:

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Georgia quickly advanced to first and goal. Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh rushed in for a one-yard TD, making it 21-0 with 8:25 left in the half. Oregon took over, and a penalty on Georgia (unnecessary roughness) helped take them al the way to the 11-yard line. But a false start penalty pushed them back, and on 3rd and 16 quarterback Bo Nix nearly got picked off. Oregon had to settle for a field goal, which made it 21-3 with 3:57 left.

On Georgia’s drive, Bennett threw to McIntosh for a 37-yard gain — the longest by either team thus far. Then later, on 1st and goal, Bennett staged a masterful play-fake: after lining up next to McIntosh and running towards him as if planning to throw to him, Bennett changed direction and ran the other way. After barely evading Oregon defenders, he heaved the ball to the other side of the end zone — to a wide-open Ladd McConkey.

Georgia led 28-3 at the half after this deft scoring play. Video from Twitter.
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Georgia opened up the second half right where they left off. Bennett connected with McConkey for substantial yardage. Mitchell and McIntosh moved the ball another 20 yards through the air before Kendall Milton ran it 12 yards for a touchdown. Georgia led 35-3.

Oregon running back Sean Dollars ran for a first down on 3rd and 12, but Oregon couldn’t do anything with the rest of the drive, which led to a Nix punt. On third down, Georgia remained perfect as Bennett lobbed a jump ball up to WR Adonai Mitchell for a touchdown. The lead was now 42-3, with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

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At the end of the third quarter, Carson Beck came in at quarterback, and it appeared that Bennett’s day was done. But the Bulldogs offense wasn’t: by the start of the fourth quarter, Georgia was threatening again. Kendall Milton ran in for another touchdown, this one from 18 yards. Georgia took a dominant 49-3 lead.

Oregon was unable to get anything going on offense and was forced to punt on 4th down. Surprisingly Georgia also had difficulties on the offensive front and had to punt. But Georgia punter Brett Thorson (who’s from Melbourne, Australia) drilled a 53-yard punt deep inside Oregon’s 10-yard line. (Thorson, who only started playing American football in 2020, got lots of props from his teammates after the play.)

Oregon’s offense finally got some life as the Ducks stepped up their running game, eventually getting as far as the 20 yard line. They went for it on 4th down and successfully made it to first and goal. But Georgia’s stout defense kept them out of the end zone. Oregon went for it again on 4th and goal, but Nix’s pass went nowhere.

Georgia shut Oregon out of the end zone, limiting them to just three points while combining a successful run game with a dominant defense. Bennett’s first game as starter resulted in him throwing 25-for-31 (an 80% completion percentage) for 368 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia won, 49-3.

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