As they filed out of Alltel Stadium on Saturday, deflated and despondent Georgia fans were cursing two late plays their team botched.
Both came on the Bulldogs' second-to-last drive. The first saw split end Terrence Edwards, a former Washington County star, drop a pass behind Florida's secondary. The second was on fourth-and-1 from Georgia's 42-yard line, when a questionable decision by Mark Richt to pass ended in an incompletion and, ultimately, a 20-13 loss to the Gators.
The most costly gaffes, however, came earlier. When the Bulldogs remember the 12th loss to their nemesis in the past 13 years, they'll lament a third quarter that held an excellent opportunity for them to do something decisive.
"We could have at least put ourselves in better shape than we did," said Richt, whose No. 7 Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) play host to Mississippi (5-4, 2-3) on Saturday.
After entering halftime holding a tenuous 13-12 lead, the Bulldogs began to take control in the third quarter thanks to their defense. Georgia's defensive line began to dominate Florida's front, chasing quarterback Rex Grossman on seemingly every play.
The Gators ran 18 plays for 58 yards on their four third-quarter drives, none of which crossed into Georgia territory. Each of the Bulldogs' four drives in the quarter reached Florida territory, but none produced points. Two of the drives totaled minus-19 yards.
The biggest waste of field position came after Georgia defensive tackle Darrius Swain recovered a fumble by tailback Earnest Graham at Florida's 20-yard line.
After an incomplete pass and a 1-yard run by Musa Smith, quarterback David Greene threw incomplete on third down while facing heavy pressure. Offensive tackle George Foster committed a personal foul when he pounced on linebacker Bam Hardmon after the play was blown dead, pushing the Bulldogs back 15 yards.
Billy Bennett's 50-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright. He missed a 36-yarder on the next possession, and Georgia was held scoreless in the second half for the first time since last year's loss to Florida.
"It was very frustrating," said Richt, whose team was 0-for-13 on third-down conversions. "The defense rose to the occasion so many times, it's a shame that we weren't able to capitalize with more points."
EDWARDS UPDATE: Jeannette Edwards, the mother of Terrence Edwards, remained at Jacksonville's Baptist Hospital on Sunday after fainting at the end of Saturday's game.
Her husband, Robert Edwards Jr., said all tests had come up negative as of late Sunday afternoon.
"This is the first time anything like this has ever happened," he said. "The doctors don't have any earthly idea what's wrong."
Robert said Jeannette, 47, fell into his arms while the two were trying to comfort their youngest son and grandson in the stands of Alltel Stadium.
"She just blanked out," he said. "I sat her down, and she was coherent. Then she passed out again. I started to give her a little bit of mouth-to-mouth, but she was still breathing."
Terrence Edwards accompanied his family to the hospital before rejoining the rest of the Bulldogs on the flight back to Athens, Ga. His father, who returned home to Tennille, Ga., on Sunday afternoon, planned to rest before deciding when to return to Jacksonville.
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com
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