Anticipation over the first start of redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson’s career fizzled before 30 minutes were played in the 2021 edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party. That’s bound to happen when three second-quarter turnovers turn a tooth-and-nail battle into a blowout that eventually led to a 34-7 win for the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs over the Florida Gators.
The college football rankings are the bottom-line determination of a team’s fate. Beginning with the Associated Press and coaches polls, and followed by the College Football Playoff rankings, the college football pecking order becomes clearer as the season goes on.
In a low-scoring affair in which pitchers on both sides shined and the Commodore bats were mostly silenced, Vanderbilt was defeated 4-2.
“They did a nice job of holding us down,” Coach Tim Corbin said after the game. “We couldn’t get anything going with our bats and couldn’t get anything going with our legs obviously. Just a tougher night offensively. I thought we pitched well enough and defensively we played a pretty good game too.”
Sophomore Thomas Schultz made just his second career start for Vanderbilt and was solid with 4.1 innings pitched, four strikeouts and two earned runs in 75 total pitches.
On the other side, Georgia State’s starting pitcher, Paul Watson, dazzled as he pitched five full innings and only surrendered one run while striking out seven.
The Panthers struck first in the top of the second as Elian Merejo led off with a bloop-single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. A sacrifice bunt pushed Merejo to third and a Dalton Pearson sacrifice fly eventually scored him.
Facing their first deficit of the early season, the Commodores quickly responded in the bottom of the second. Tate Kolwyck drew a one-out walk and Dominic Keegan advanced him to third with a two-out single. Enrique Bradfield Jr. then stepped up to the plate and laced a single under the second baseman’s glove to score Kolwyck and tie the game at one.
Georgia State pulled ahead again in the fifth inning as the Panthers turned Dalton Pearson’s leadoff single and steal into a run thanks to a Tanner Gallman double off the wall in deep left field. Schultz walked the next batter and that was the end of his night as Corbin opted to bring in Nick Maldonado in relief.
ATHENS — Georgia basketball proved it could measure up to good competition on Saturday night, winning decisively over battle-tested Cincinnati in Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs ran their record to 6-0 with the 83-68 victory, sealing their best start to a season for a UGA team since the 1982-83 Final Four unit.
“We knew the competition, the strength and the length would be a test,” said Georgia coach Tom Crean, who’s in his third season leading the program. “We really rose to the level of the competition. It wasn’t just us matching their energy and toughness, we brought our own.”
Toumani Camara had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead a Bulldogs’ team that had four players score in double figures.
Sahvir Wheeler had 12 points and 7 assists, and Justin Kier had 18 points and was 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.
“We went really hard this week, just to show we can be physical as well,” Kier said. “This showed the maturity of our team.”
Camara went to the rim for a basketball at the 4:26 mark of the first half to spark a 15-0 run that left Georgia up 49-26 as the teams headed to intermission.
The Bearcats (2-4), who lost at No. 12 Tennessee by a 65-56 count, failed to get closer than 12 points in the second half.
“We just trust each other, the momentum is always up for grabs,” Camara said. “We had the momentum at the moment, and we just kept on going.
“I think we learned how good we can be playing together and staying focused on the task.”
Crean was certainly impressed with the 6-foot-8, 220-pound sophomore.
“For him to play that way against a physical team like Cincinnati said a lot,” said Crean, whose team won the battle of the board 39-38 despite being out-sized in the paint.
NORCROSS — Brock Vandagriff let himself soak up the moment with a few minutes to go in Prince Avenue Christian’s runaway 50-3 win Friday night at Wesleyan.
“I can’t believe we are going to play for a state championship now,” Vandagriff said. “I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life man.”
He has. His Wolverines will. Behind three passing touchdowns and one score on the ground, the Bulldog signee led Prince Avenue (12-1) to the Georgia High School Association’s Class A private state championship game currently scheduled for Dec. 28.
“It is an amazing feeling,” Brock Vandagriff said. “I can’t even describe it honestly. Me and my Dad have dreamed about this forever. To be able to bring it to Prince is something special. I think this is the second time we have been to the state championship in the whole history of Prince Avenue.”
Vandagriff is the star quarterback. His father, Greg, is the head coach who was able to exorcise a few state semifinal demons with the victory.
Brock Vandagriff was a happy Wolverine after Prince Avenue Christian’s 50-3 win in the Class A state semifinals on Saturday night. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
In a tightly-contested defensive battle that saw preseason Sun Belt Offensive Player of the year Zac Thomas go down with a late injury, the Mountaineers edged past Georgia State 17-13 on Saturday at Kidd Brewer.
“It was a big-time college football game here at The Rock,” App State head coach Shawn Clark said. “It’s never easy to win, but we’re going to celebrate this win and get ready for Coastal.”
Later that drive after Thomas was injured, App State took its first lead of the game on a 10-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Camerun Peoples with 4:55 to play.
On Georgia State’s next drive, the Mountaineer defense held strong, forced a stop, and the offense was able to stay on the field for the rest of the game to secure the victory and remain undefeated against the Panthers all-time (7-0).
Georgia State drew first blood in the game, converting on four third downs on its first possession before capping it off with a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cornelious Brown IV to wide receiver Sam Pinckney. Pinckney was alone in the corner of the end zone and made the catch to give the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.
The Mountaineers offense went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, but senior defensive end Caleb Spurlin forced a fumble that junior linebacker D’Marco Jackson recovered to give possession back to App State at midfield. The Mountaineers had a first and goal from the 2-yard line following a defensive pass interference call, but couldn’t punch it in and settled for a 21-yard field goal from senior kicker Chandler Staton. App State forced three fumbles in the first quarter but only recovered one, and trailed 7-3 going into the second quarter.
The Massachusetts football team lost its first game of the season, falling 41-0 to Georgia Southern. UMass (0-1) was unable to put together much success on either side of the ball, allowing the Eagles (3-1, 1-1 Sun Belt) to run away with the game early on.
“Obviously the results not what we wanted,” coach Walt Bell said. “But just for us to get to this point, I’m really proud of our kids, proud of our administration for giving us an opportunity to play football.”
The Minutemen defense forced a third-and-short on its first series of the game but were unable to stop the Eagles triple-option on third down. After moving the chains, Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts found receiver Malik Murray wide open for a 47-yard touchdown on a play-action pass.
Werts found success time and time again, throwing for 128 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Minutemen defense struggled with mishaps in pass coverage, allowing Eagles receivers plenty of open space on all three Werts passing touchdowns. By halftime, Werts’ four touchdowns allowed the Eagles to grow a plentiful 28-0 lead.
“There’s a speed aspect to it, you don’t catch up to until a drive or two into the game,” Bell said of the defensive performance. “You do everything you can to help survive it. We didn’t help the defense very much offensively, which kind of made matters worse knowing those guys were out there for a while.”
Redshirt senior Mike Fallon got the starting nod at quarterback for the Minutemen, providing most of their first half offensive production. Fallon looked comfortable at the helm, completing four of his seven first half passes for 27 yards. Heading into the half, Fallon also led UMass in rushing yards with 31.
ATHENS — Georgia receiver Kearis Jackson said two weeks ago that this “would be a Georgia offense that nobody has ever seen before.”
What the 6-foot, 200-pounder from Fort Valley, Ga., didn’t tell us was that he would play a lead role in it.
Jackson hauled in a career-high 9 catches for 147 yards, helping to get the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs on track early and often in their 27-6 win over No. 7 Auburn on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
“He deserved that game more than anybody,” Coach Kirby Smart said. “He made plays, and he did a great job with that.”
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett looked for Jackson on third-down throws on each of the first two scoring drives in the first quarter, and Jackson came through each time.
Jackson produced again in the fourth quarter, bailing UGA out on a third-and-21.
• Third-and-10 at AU 32, Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards. Five plays later UGA opened the game’s scoring with a touchdown.
• Third-and-2 at AU 20, Bennett found Jackson for a 16-yard gain. Four plays later, UGA padded its lead with a field goal.
• Third-and-21 at UGA 23, Bennett completed a pass to Jackson for 22 yards.
Jackson, a state shot put champion at Peach County High School as well as a sprinter, was just getting warmed up.
Jackson hauled in a 49-yard rainbow pass from Bennett in the second quarter that, had it been on a line, would have gone for a touchdown.
Special teams is another area where Jackson contributes, though Auburn did a nice job keeping him bottled up in that area. Jackson had two punt returns for 6 yards.
“We want to be explosive and put points on the board every time we touch the ball,” Jackson said entering into the season-opening game.
Dillon Gabriel made sure Central Florida didn’t let another game slip away on the road.
The sophomore threw for a career-best 417 yards and four touchdowns, leading the No. 14 Knights to a 49-21 victory over Georgia Tech in their season opener Saturday.
It was a rewarding performance for UCF, coming off the uncertainty of the pandemic-affected summer and a bit of a disappointing season by its standards in 2019. The Knights lost three games — all on the road — by a total of seven points.
After falling behind 28-7, Georgia Tech closed within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. But Gabriel led a dominating performance the rest of the way, finishing 27 of 41 to eclipse his previous career high of 365 yards in a game last season at East Carolina.
“We had so many guys making plays all over the field,” Gabriel said. ”When that happens, you see what we can do.”
UCF bounced back after giving up a long return on the opening kickoff and falling behind less than a minute into the game.
Tre Nixon and Marlon Williams each hauled in a pair of TD passes. Showing off its running back depth, UCF got touchdowns on the ground from Greg McCrae, Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson.
Gabriel, a left-hander from Hawaii who claimed the starting job early in his freshman year, is the one who makes the fast-paced offense go.
JOHNS CREEK — Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans needed an extra hole, but his short birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole at No. 18 was a winner at 99th Georgia Amateur Championship on Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Schniederjans, of Alpharetta, entered the day three strokes back of the leaders, Johns Creek’s Deven Patel and Suwanee’s Brett Barron, who will be a fifth-year senior at Georgia Southern in 2020-21.
Following an even-par front nine, Schniederjans was one stroke behind Patel. Schniederjans went on to birdie the par-3 12th hole on the Highlands Course to move into a tie for the lead.
He grabbed the lead shortly after and made six straight pars following his birdie on the 12th hole to close out his round at even-par 71 and put a stamp on an even-par 213 total (72-70-71) for the scheduled 54-hole championship.
But there was still a little drama remaining.
Barron (70-69-74), playing one group behind Schniederjans, needed a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to force a playoff. The 2018 Georgia Amateur champion took care of business and drained his 10-foot birdie attempt to send the duo back to the 18th for the playoff.
Schniederjans found the fairway off the tee, while Barron was in a bunker and was forced to layup. Schniederjans took advantage of the opportunity and hit the par-5 in two strokes, leaving himself a long eagle attempt of about 40 feet. His eagle came up just short, but Barron was unable to sink his birdie attempt of about 12 feet, allowing Schniederjans to finish off his birdie putt from within 2 feet, and claim victory.