GatorZone.com Senior Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Georgia started fast, really fast, and ultimately had enough to finish off a Florida rally for a 23-20 win in their annual Southeastern Conference series at EverBank Field.
Quarterback Aaron Murray passed for 258 yards and a score, while tailback Todd Gurley, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle, rushed for 100 yards and scored twice as the Bulldogs defeated the Gators a third straight time for the first time in 24 years.
For Florida (4-4, 3-3), the loss was its third straight and eliminated the Gators from the SEC East Division race.
The Murray-Gurley combo helped the Bulldogs (5-3, 4-2) build a 23-3 halftime lead after cranking out 355 yards in the first two quarters. That total came on the heels of the Gators surrendering 500 yards, including 205 on the ground, two weeks ago in a loss at Missouri.
UF, though, managed to battle back into the game by scoring 17 straight points to open the second half.
The game took a huge momentum swing early in the third period when Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr picked up a Murray pass, dropped by tight end Arthur Lynch in the back and ruled a lateral. Orr returned the ball to the UGA 16 and three plays later, UF tailback Mack Brown scored around left end on a 6-yard touchdown run. That made the score 23-10.
On Georgia's next offensive possession, UF cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy sacked Murray in the end zone for a safety. It was 23-12.
After the Bulldogs free kick, Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy moved his unit 50 yards in five plays, first racing 25 yards to the UGA 14, then going 14 yards for a touchdown. His two-point conversion pass to tight end Clay Burton drew UF to 23-20 with 14:20 to go.
And four minutes later, the Gators were back in Georgia territory with a first down, but went three-and-out, with the third-down play a 14-yard sack.
Florida punted the ball away at the 8:17 mark and never got the ball back, as Georgia ran the clock out with the game's final 18 plays.
The Bulldogs needed less than three minutes to score their first touchdown, a 5-yard run by Gurley, then needed just three plays to score the second, a 73-yard Murray-to-Gurley touchdown pass. Those drives, along with three field goals from Marshall Morgan, had the Bulldogs out to a 20-point lead.
Two drives, 147 yards and two touchdowns in less than six minutes.
Murray ran 17 yards on the game's first play and Gurley, who missed the previous three games with a sprained ankle, had a 25-yard run to the UF 5 and finished it off on the next play with a touchdown run.
The Gators had a chance to bounce back on their first possession after quarterback Murphy hit Quinton Dunbar for an 83-yard bomb to the Georgia 9. But after freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor gained just two yards on third and goal, senior wide receiver Solomon Patton was flagged for a dead-ball unnecessary roughness penalty.
The infraction moved UF back 15 yards walk-on kicker Frakie Velez pushed a 40-yard field attempt wide to the right.
The Bulldogs faced a third-and-6 at their 23 when the Gators emptied their defense with an all-out blitz and left Gurley completely open for a checkdown. He caught Murray's dumpoff pass in stride and had nothing but open field for 50 yards, before evading one UF defender and taking the play the distance.
The Gators second offensive possession lasted six plays, went 18 yards and ended with a punt. The Bulldogs then drove 53 yards in 10 plays with Marshall Morgan kicking a 49-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead with just over two minutes to play in the opening period.
Morgan added a second field on Georgia's fourth possession, a 27-yarder early in the second quarter to cap a 6-play, 49-yard drive.
UF blew its second red-zone opportunity and was forced to settle for a field goal, Velez's 31-yard, that at least put the Gators on the board. That kick came six minutes into the second period.
Morgan negated the Florida's field goal with a 32-yarder, his third of the game, as time expired in the first half. Those points came after the Gators went for a fourth-and-10 at the Georgia 40 and failed to make the mark. In fact, the play failed to get back to the line of scrimmage. The pass went about six yards downfield, but Dunbar ran backward and ended up losing three yards.