ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Stetson Bennett threw two touchdown passes and No. 1 Georgia ended a straight undefeated regular season for the first time in school history by overcoming a slow start and beating Georgia Tech 37-14 on Saturday.
Georgia (0-12, No. 1 CFP) was 7-0 down early and only led 10-7 at halftime over Georgia Tech. Then the Bulldogs overwhelmed the Yellow Jackets (5-7) with their running play to record 37 unanswered points and earn their fifth straight win in the state rivalry.
Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton ran for touchdowns. Georgia passed Georgia Tech 264-40.
The Bulldogs’ defending champion is in a good position to maintain his No. 1 college football playoff position and face No. 6 LSU in next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game.
Mistakes in the third quarter reduced the Yellow Jackets’ chance of spoiling the Bulldogs’ historic day. After a low snap, punter David Shanahan was tackled at Georgia Tech 17. That set up Bennett’s second scoring pass, a 1-yarder to tight end Brock Bowers on a fourth-down play.
Georgia Tech rookie running back Jamie Felix’ fumble was recovered by Georgia’s Robert Beal in the Yellow Jackets’ next game. The turnover gave the Bulldogs a 23-7 lead with a 36-yard field goal from Jack Podlesny.
Georgia pulled away in the fourth quarter. Bennett’s 83-yard pass to McIntosh — the Bulldogs’ longest pass of the season — set up McIntosh’s 2-yard scoring run. Milton added a 44-yard scoring run.
The Yellow Jackets ended the Bulldogs’ streak of 37 straight points by running Dontae Smith’s 24-yard scoring pass back to Malachi Carter with less than 3 minutes left.
Georgia Tech became the first team to score a touchdown against Georgia in the first quarter this season. Zach Gibson completed a 34-yard pass to Nate McCollum in fourth and ninth games for the Georgia 7.
Backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh’s 7-yard scoring run crowned the touchdown drive.
The Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter when Bennett executed a 5-yard scoring pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. It was Georgia’s only pass of a drive that included a 45-yard run by McIntosh.
Georgia Tech finished 4-4 under interim coach Brent Key, failing to get eligible to the Bowl for the first time since 2018.
THE TAKE AWAY
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets once again showed the progress they’ve made under Key. A year ago, the team’s third straight three-win season ended in a 45-0 loss to Georgia.
After beating two top-25 teams — Pittsburgh and North Carolina — on the road under Key, Georgia Tech was competitive against the Bulldogs for at least a half. Gibson, the Yellow Jackets’ third starting quarterback, showed a good balance against the nation’s highest-scoring defense.
Georgia: The Bulldogs have avoided disappointment this season, and when they were flat early in the game, they showed resilience. Bennett avoided mistakes while McIntosh showed his versatility, posting game-leading totals of 86 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards in two catches. Bennett completed 10 of 18 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns and had five carries for 21 yards.
Georgia should defend its No. 1 positions in the AP Top 25 and college football playoff rankings.
Georgia Tech: Opens its 2023 season against Louisville on September 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia: Playing in the SEC championship game for the fifth time in six years when it meets No. 6 LSU in Atlanta next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25