Georgia survives Florida scare, App State up next
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Georgia football coach Mark Richt liked how his Bulldogs played in the first half of their 23-20 win over Florida Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
The second half? Well, not so much.
Georgia took a 20-point lead only to see Florida come back in the second half and nearly won the game despite missing two field goals. Georgia, leading by three points, ran the final 8:17 of the game down by converting four third downs.
The Bulldogs (5-3) are sandwiching Appalachian State between Florida last Saturday and Auburn the week after the Mountaineers visit Sanford Stadium for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff this Saturday.
"There was a tale of two halves," Richt said on his Sunday teleconference. "It was a great first half. Just about everything we could have hoped for happened. We didn't give up a touchdown and we played well on defense."
Florida got back into the game after the Bulldogs took a 23-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
"Enough good things happened in the first half so that when things got away from us, we had enough to hang on," Richt said.
The Bulldogs beat Florida for the third straight time, the first time they've done that in 24 years. They also take on Auburn on Nov. 16 looking to stay in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division race.
In between those games is Appalachian State, which is 2-7 overall and coming off a 35-28 loss to Chattanooga. Despite the Mountaineers' problems, and the chance for the Bulldogs to play a struggling FCS team between two key SEC games, Richt doesn't think the Bulldogs will suffer a letdown.
"Every game we've played has come down to the wire," he said. "Every time we've played, it's been a great game."
Appalachian State has not beaten an FBS team since 2007 when the Mountaineers stunned then-No. 5 Michigan 34-32. Since then, they are 0-5 against FBS teams, including 0-2 against SEC teams.
App State lost 41-13 to LSU in 2008 and Florida 48-10 in the final game of the 2010 season. Virginia Tech, from the ACC, also beat App State 66-13 in 2011.
Appalachian State is also 1-12 all-time against SEC teams. The Mountaineers beat South Carolina 39-34 in 1975 when the Gamecocks were an independent.
Richt said he is still not looking past the Mountaineers.
"We have a lot of respect for the team we are about to play in Appalachian State," he said. "It's a team I know was very well coached over the years. They have great athletes and we have to line up and coach up the very best we can and hopefully we will get the win."
Richt also has another tie that is more personal. His sister, Mikki Richt, played volleyball at App State during the 1980s. He also hired former App State offensive line coach Stacey Searels, who was the offensive line coach in 2007-08 and promoted to running game coordinator in 2009.
Richt said Searels used to talk a lot about App State.
"He loved it there," Richt said. "I can tell you that. He and his family loved it there. He enjoyed coaching there and living there. He says it's one of the better jobs he's ever had."