No. 1 Georgia overcomes slow start, routs Georgia Tech 37-14

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Stetson Bennett threw two touchdown passes and No. 1 Georgia completed back-to-back undefeated regular seasons for the first time in school history by overcoming a slow start to beat Georgia Tech 37-14 on Saturday.

Georgia (12-0, No. 1 CFP) was down 7-0 early and led Georgia Tech only 10-7 at halftime. Then the Bulldogs overpowered the Yellow Jackets (5-7) with their running game to score 37 unanswered points and notch their fifth consecutive win in the state rivalry.

Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton ran for touchdowns. Georgia outrushed Georgia Tech 264-40.

The defending national champion Bulldogs are in good position to retain their No. 1 College Football Playoff ranking entering next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 6 LSU.

Mistakes in the third quarter hurt the Yellow Jackets’ chance at spoiling the Bulldogs’ history-making day. Following a low snap, punter David Shanahan was tackled at the Georgia Tech 17. That set up Bennett’s second scoring pass, a 1-yarder to tight end Brock Bowers on a fourth-down play.

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Georgia Tech freshman running back Jamie Felix’s fumble was recovered by Georgia’s Robert Beal on the Yellow Jackets’ next play. The turnover set up a 36-yard field goal by Jack Podlesny to give the Bulldogs a 23-7 lead.

Georgia pulled away in the fourth quarter. Bennett’s 83-yard pass to McIntosh — the Bulldogs’ longest pass of the season — set up McIntosh’s 2-yard scoring run. Milton added a 44-yard scoring run.

The Yellow Jackets ended the Bulldogs’ string of 37 consecutive points on running back Dontae Smith’s 24-yard scoring pass to Malachi Carter with less than 3 minutes remaining.

Georgia Tech became the first team to score a first-quarter touchdown against Georgia this season. Zach Gibson completed a 34-yard pass to Nate McCollum on a fourth and 9 play to the Georgia 7.

Backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh’s 7-yard scoring run capped the touchdown drive.

The Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead on Bennett’s 5-yard scoring pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint in the second quarter. It was Georgia’s only pass of a drive that included a 45-yard run by McIntosh.

Georgia Tech finished 4-4 under interim coach Brent Key and fell short in its bid to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets again showed the progress they’ve made under Key. One year ago, the team’s third consecutive three-win season ended with a 45-0 loss to Georgia.

After beating two Top 25 teams — Pittsburgh and North Carolina — on the road under Key, Georgia Tech was competitive for at least one half against the Bulldogs. Gibson, the Yellow Jackets’ third starting quarterback, showed good poise against the nation’s top scoring defense.

Georgia: The Bulldogs have avoided letdowns this season, and if they were flat to open the game, they showed resiliency. Bennett avoided mistakes while McIntosh showed his versatility by posting game-leading totals of 86 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards on two catches. Bennett completed 10 of 18 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns and had five carries for 21 yards.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Georgia should protect its No. 1 positions in the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff ranking.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech: Opens its 2023 season against Louisville on Sept. 2 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Georgia: Plays in the SEC championship game for the fifth time in six years when it faces No. 6 LSU next Saturday in Atlanta.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

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