JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Jordan Scarlett scored for the sixth consecutive game, Antonio Callaway had the first rushing touchdown of his career and No. 14 Florida used a dominant defensive effort to beat Georgia 24-10 on Saturday.
Playing just their second game in four weeks, the Gators won their third straight in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” It was Florida’s 21st victory against the Bulldogs in the last 27 years.
Coach Jim McElwain should raise a glass to his defense after the latest one.
The Gators (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) pressured freshman quarterback Jacob Eason early and often and stuffed Nick Chubb on just about every carry. The unit stopped two fourth-down plays on Georgia’s final two drives.
The biggest mismatch was up front, with Florida’s defense controlling the line of scrimmage. That’s nothing new for Georgia (4-4, 2-4), whose O-line has been a target for criticism all season. The Bulldogs lost for the fourth time in their last five games, and first-year coach Kirby Smart fell to 1-6 in the series as a player and coach.
McElwain improved to 2-0, including a win against his former colleague and close friend. Smart and McElwain worked at Alabama (2008-11) together, and the Tide went 48-6 and claimed two national championships with them as coordinators.
Florida did nothing spectacular offensively, managing 231 yards.
Luke Del Rio, coming off a three-interception performance against Missouri, completed 15 of 25 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. His 19-yard scoring pass to C’yontai Lewis in the first quarter got Florida on the board. Scarlett made it 14-10 late in the second when he scampered in from 2 yards out. Callaway gave the Gators some cushion when he scored on a jet sweet late in the third.
That was plenty for Florida’s defense, which smothered Georgia on a warm, sun-soaked afternoon. The Bulldogs finished with 164 yards, including 21 rushing. Chubb had 20 yards on nine carries.
FLORIDA: Remains atop the SEC’s Eastern Division, but the road to Atlanta stiffens with games remaining against Arkansas, South Carolina and LSU down the stretch. Win them all, and the Gators will return to the league’s title game.
GEORGIA: Continues to be a work in progress in Smart’s first season. The Bulldogs played well defensively for the second straight week but had nothing to show for it.
The Gators, who moved up one spot in the Top 25 despite not playing last week, could inch closer to the top 10 . The Gators haven’t been ranked in the top 10 since losing to in-state rival Florida State last November.
Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was in the stadium for the second time in less than a week. Del Rio, who spent nine years as Jacksonville’s head coach before getting fired in 2011, was on hand to watch his son, Luke, play. Del Rio’s Raiders beat the Jaguars 33-16 last Sunday. Oakland spent the week in Florida and play at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Del Rio attended the game with his wife and family.
WELCOME BACK, HBC
Retired coach Steve Spurrier attended his first Florida-Georgia game in 15 years. The Head Ball Coach, who won the 1966 Heisman Trophy while playing for the Gators and later spent 12 years coaching his alma mater, watched the game from retiring athletic director Jeremy Foley’s suite. New AD Steve Stricklin was there, too. It was Spurrier’s first time at the stadium since his final season at Florida in 2001. Spurrier, who stepped down as South Carolina’s coach in 2015, is now serving as an ambassador to his alma mater.
FLORIDA: Plays at Arkansas for the first time since 2008. The Gators are 9-1 against the Razorbacks, including nine consecutive wins since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992.
GEORGIA: Plays at Kentucky. The Bulldogs have won six in a row and 17 of 19 in the series.