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Wednesday January 26th, 2022 5:42AM

After sluggish start, No. 1 Dogs rout Missouri

By Charles Odum AP Sports Writer
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ATHENS — Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to former starter JT Daniels, leading No. 1 Georgia to a 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday.

The game opened new questions for Georgia at quarterback while affirming the Bulldogs’ season-long defensive dominance. Missouri was held to 273 total yards in Georgia’s seventh game of the season allowing no more than 10 points.

Missouri’s Tyler Badie, the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to 41 yards on the ground.

Georgia (9-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) was impressive in scoring 40 unanswered points after Missouri’s early 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs began the day leading the nation with their average of 6.6 points allowed per game.

Georgia led 34-3 before Missouri freshman quarterback Tyler Macon’s 28-yard pass to Tauskie Dove set up a first down at the Georgia 3 in the final minute. The Georgia defense held on three plays from the 1.

Daniels, who opened the season as Georgia’s starter before suffering a lat injury, came off the sideline to make his first appearance since late September.

Bennett, making his fifth consecutive start, enjoyed one of his best games. The former walk-on completed 13 of 19 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Daniels entered the game midway through the third quarter.

Daniels, making his first appearance since his start against Vanderbilt on Sept. 25, played as if he has fully recovered from the injury that forced him to miss a month. Daniels completed a fourth-down pass to tight end John FitzPatrick before completing a 7-yard scoring pass to Ladd McConkey for a 40-3 lead.

Daniels’ second possession ended with an interception by Missouri defensive back Jaylor Carlies. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 82 yards.

Daniels’ return will spark new questions about which quarterback will lead Georgia the remainder of the season or even if coach Kirby Smart will play both.

Missouri (4-5, 1-4) also could have ongoing questions at quarterback.

Tigers starter Connor Bazelak, who left last week’s win over Vanderbilt with what coach Eli Drinkwitz called a “soft tissue” injury, was with the team but did not play.

Macon made his first start while sharing time with Brady Cook. Macon completed 6 of 13 passes for 74 yards and ran for 42 yards. Cook completed 14 of 19 passes for 78 yards.

Harrison Mevis kicked a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter to give Missouri a 3-0 lead. Mevis was 12 for 12 on field-goal attempts this season. He had a streak of 20 consecutive field goals overall before his attempt from 48 yards hit the left upright and was no good late in the third quarter.

Georgia’s special teams added to the scoring on a safety following Nolan Smith’s blocked punt in the second quarter.

THE TAKEAWAY

Missouri: Macon gave the Tigers a new look with his dual-threat skills. He had a 20-yard run in the first half and showed potential for more success as a runner. After ranking last in the nation in rushing defense, Missouri stacked its defense against the run with mixed success. While Georgia was held to 67 yards rushing in the first half, the Tigers were unable to slow the passing game, especially against Bennett.

Georgia: Linebacker Adam Anderson, the team’s sacks leader, was suspended for the game while he is under investigation by Athens-Clarke County Police for an alleged rape. The Bulldogs lost another key starter during the week when left tackle Jamaree Salyer suffered a left foot injury in a practice. The Bulldogs’ depth, perhaps the team’s biggest strength, again paid off to keep the team on track for its championship hopes.

The depth was evident at running back. Georgia ran for 168 yards, led by James Cook’s 41 yards and one touchdown.

POLL IMPICATIONS

Georgia should be a lock to retain its No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 and is assured of again claiming the top spot in the season’s second College Football Playoff rankings.

RICHT HONORED

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt was honored at halftime. Richt also filled a role usually held by former Georgia players when he “called out the Dogs” before the game.

The Bulldogs won 2002 and 2005 SEC championships, and played in three other SEC title games, in Richt’s 15 seasons. He posted a 145-51 record from 2002-16.

Richt announced this summer he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

UP NEXT

Missouri plays the first of back-to-back home SEC games when it plays South Carolina on Saturday.

Georgia closes its SEC schedule at Tennessee next Saturday. The Bulldogs have won the last four in the series, including a 44-21 home win last season when both teams were ranked.

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