ATHENS (AP) — Georgia’s first win in 20 years without a touchdown was a game perhaps only a kicker could enjoy.
For Marshall Morgan, however, there was gloom before his game-winning glory.
Morgan, who missed from 26 yards about 4 minutes earlier, kicked a 34-yard field goal with 1:44 remaining and Georgia edged Missouri 9-6 on Saturday night to remain alive in the SEC East race. It was Georgia’s first win without scoring a touchdown since a 12-3 victory over Kentucky in 1995.
“That’s what you play for,” said Morgan when asked about preparing for the game-winning kick while forgetting his miss.
“You’ve got to forget every kick, whether you make it or miss.”
Georgia (5-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak by holding Missouri (4-3, 1-3) to six first downs and 164 total yards. Missouri has lost two straight. The win allowed Georgia to protect its hopes of catching SEC East leader Florida, which lost to LSU 35-28. Following an off week, Georgia plays Florida on Oct. 31 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The game was ugly in many ways, but Georgia coach Mark Richt said “Really, I’m ecstatic with the victory. A lot of great things happened. ... In the end we got it done.”
Georgia’s Sony Michel had 26 carries for 87 yards rushing while taking over as the starter following star tailback Nick Chubb’s season-ending knee injury. The Tigers showed why they lead the SEC in pass defense and scoring defense. They had allowed an average of only 13.5 points per game before frustrating quarterback Greyson Lambert and the Bulldogs.
Lambert completed 23 of 32 passes for 178 yards. He suffered a rough start when his first pass was deflected by linebacker Michael Scherer and intercepted by Ian Simon, whose 39-yard return to the Georgia 1 set up a 20-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett.
Georgia held the Tigers to a field goal, setting the trend for its strong red-zone defense in the game. Missouri was held to two field goals on three red-zone possessions.
Freshman Drew Lock completed only 11 of 26 passes for 143 yards with no interceptions in his third start for Missouri following the suspension of Maty Mauk.
Russell Hansbrough had 11 carries for only 24 yards. The Tigers were held to 21 net yards rushing.
“It was a night of defenses,” said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. “... Those are difficult losses, as we continue to struggle on offense.”
Lock said being unable to score a touchdown when taking possession at the Georgia 1 early in the game was difficult to put out of his mind.
“You want to say that it doesn’t, but it’s probably there half of the time in the back of your head before you go out for the next play,” Lock said.
Michel was accompanied to the locker room for an undisclosed reason in the first quarter. Georgia turned to Brendan Douglas, who was stopped for no gain on consecutive plays, including a fourth-and-one at the Missouri 45.
Michel returned for Georgia’s next possession but couldn’t consistently replace Chubb’s power that helped him record 13 straight games with more than 100 yards rushing.
Chubb, accompanied by former star tailback Todd Gurley, now with the NFL St. Louis Rams, walked to the Georgia sideline on crutches and sat on a trainer’s table during the game. The Rams have a bye week.
Georgia’s first-half follies also included a botched onside kick that didn’t travel 10 yards. The Bulldogs also had a long incomplete pass from Lambert on a busted play when his intended receiver, Reggie Davis, was at least 20 yards away. That drive still produced Georgia’s only points of the half on Morgan’s 29-yard field goal.
Georgia safety Dominick Sanders was ejected for targeting on his hit on Emanuel Hall in the third quarter. The call was confirmed following a quick review by the officials.
An apparent interception by Missouri safety Anthony Sherrils was overturned by a review as officials determined the ball hit the ground. The call set up a tying 24-yard field goal by Morgan late in the third quarter.
Morgan was wide left on a 26-yard field goal with 5:40 remaining.