Shawn Williams' criticism will be remembered as a challenge. And No. 12 Georgia responded better than anyone could have expected. Five days after Williams...
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shawn Williams’ criticism will be remembered as a challenge.
And No. 12 Georgia responded better than anyone could have expected.
Five days after Williams ripped his defensive teammates for playing too soft, the Bulldogs turned in their best performance of the season — one that will go down in Florida-Georgia lore.
The Bulldogs stuffed the third-ranked Gators from every angle, forcing six turnovers in a 17-9 victory Saturday that left them on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference championship game.
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Call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Turnover Party, and it gave Georgia consecutive wins in the heated rivalry for the first time since 1989. These have to be two of the more significant victories of coach Mark Richt’s tenure.
“I’d say we’re not soft,” Richt said. “The defense rose to the occasion. … Our seniors played well, and I know it’s a game they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
The Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) can clinch the East and a spot in the conference title game with wins against Mississippi and Auburn the next two weeks.
“Shawn challenged us and we took it personal,” Jones said. “As men, when another man challenges you, it will be personal. The guys stepped up to the challenge.”
The Bulldogs did little on offense until Aaron Murray found Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown with 7:11 remaining that put them ahead 17-9.
Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands at the 5-yard line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left.
“When I saw him make the first guy miss, I thought he was going to score,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “He didn’t take care of the ball, just like the whole team didn’t all night.”
Driskel also lost a fumble, threw two interceptions and was sacked five times.
Jones had another huge game against Florida (7-1, 6-1). The junior, who had four sacks in last year’s 24-20 victory, finished with 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.