ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — As the leader of the nation’s top defense, Jordan Davis has produced enough highlights to receive some Heisman Trophy hype.
Davis made another memory in his farewell to Sanford Stadium.
The standout defensive tackle scored his first career touchdown and No. 1 Georgia was again dominant in a 56-7 rout of Charleston Southern on Saturday.
Davis began the day among the seniors honored in a pregame ceremony. He ended it directing the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band. He was presented a red uniform jacket as an honorary member of the band.
“If today was not my favorite memory, I don’t know what to tell you,” Davis said.
Georgia (11-0) was in full control against Charleston Southern (4-6), the Football Championship Subdivision team from the Big South. The Buccaneers fell to 0-25 all-time against FBS teams.
The Bulldogs allowed only 126 yards — 68 rushing on 31 carries and 58 passing.
“Man, tough when you are playing the No. 1 team in the country,” said Charleston Southern coach Autrey Denson. “There is no room for error, so we had to play a perfect game, our best game of the season. Unfortunately, we did not do that in all phases, but man did they compete their tails off.”
The Bulldogs installed a goal-line play for Davis in practice this week but there was no guarantee they would use it. As it turned out, Davis didn’t have to wait very long as he scored on a 1-yard plunge out of the Bulldogs’ jumbo package for the game’s first touchdown.
It’s not often that quarterback Stetson Bennett has the opportunity to hand the ball to a 6-foot-6, 340-pound running back.
“That was my whole job on the play, make sure he gets the ball and gets the right handoff,” Bennett said. “Make sure he gets in the end zone. It was pretty cool.”
Davis had previously played in the jumbo package as a blocker, but fans roared in anticipation when the massive lineman shifted to the backfield. Davis was stopped on his first run from the 2. Fans again cheered when he was given a second carry and scored from the 1.
The celebration with teammates began in the end zone and continued on the sideline.
“I felt like it was just a way to honor me and send me out with a bang,” Davis said. “I was excited, just knowing the team was behind me.”
Brock Bowers had two touchdown catches and four Georgia players, including Davis, had scoring runs. Zamir White ran for 83 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, on only four carries.
Bennett and JT Daniels split time at quarterback. Bennett threw scoring passes of 32 yards to Kenny McIntosh and 4 yards to Bowers.
Daniels, who began the season as the starter, took over in the second quarter and added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bowers. Carson Beck, Georgia’s third-string quarterback, took over in the second half after Georgia led 49-0 and added the Bulldogs’ fourth scoring pass to tight end Brett Seither.
Georgia’s defense, which recorded back-to-back shutouts over Vanderbilt and Arkansas in the first half of the season, began the day leading the nation with only 7.6 points allowed per game.
Charleston Southern: The Buccaneers finally were given reason to celebrate — and were penalized for doing so — when they scored on a two-turnover play in the third quarter to avoid the shutout. Jack Chambers’ pass was deflected and Georgia’s Xavian Sorey caught the deflection for an interception before losing the ball on his return. Garris Schwarting grabbed the ball from Sorey and ran 65 yards for the touchdown. The Buccaneers were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following the score.
Georgia: Bennett’s second pass of the game was intercepted by linebacker Garrett Sayegh. It was not an indication of a letdown. The Bulldogs made few mistakes after that. Most important, Georgia avoided injuries as it prepares for its Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 4. Coach Kirby Smart gave valuable playing time to backups. The Bulldogs had six players with carries of 11 yards or more. Ten players had catches of at least 10 yards.
Charleston Southern strong safety Hombre Kennedy was carted off the field with an apparent right leg injury in the first quarter.
Georgia did nothing to harm its No. 1 standing in the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff rankings. Smart challenged his team to honor seniors with a strong start. Georgia led 35-0 and had outgained Charleston Southern 280 to minus-10 early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs’ 49 first-half points tied a school record for points in a half.
Georgia honored 30 seniors before the game. Smart encouraged all eligible seniors to participate in the ceremony, though many have the option to return for an extra year granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charleston Southern opens its 2022 season at home against Western Carolina on Sept. 3.
Georgia will play its final regular-season game next week when it visits Georgia Tech. It will be the first meeting between the state rivals since Georgia’s 52-7 win in 2019, the Bulldogs’ third consecutive win in the series. The game was not played last season due to the pandemic.
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