Freshmen Fields, Cook power No. 5 Georgia past UMass, 66-27
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Freshman Justin Fields threw two scoring passes and ran for another touchdown, Tyler Simmons had rushing and receiving scores, and No. 5 Georgia protected its playoff hopes by overwhelming UMass 66-27 on Saturday.
Another freshman, James Cook ran for 76 yards on only three carries, including his first two career scoring runs, from 26 and 27 yards.
Georgia gained 701 yards, including 426 yards on the ground, and never punted.
Fields led the Bulldogs with 100 yards rushing, including a career-long run of 47 yards and a 3-yard scoring run. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia (10-1) leaned on its quick-strike offense on six scoring drives lasting no more than four plays. Starter Jake Fromm and Fields shared time at quarterback as the Bulldogs avoided looking ahead to next week’s state rivalry game against Georgia Tech or the Dec. 1 Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 1 Alabama.
The Bulldogs led UMass (4-8) 42-13 at halftime.
Highlights for the Minutemen were Andy Isabella’s second-half touchdown catches of 75 and 45 yards from Ross Comis. Isabella, one of the nation’s leading receivers, capped his career with 15 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia scored touchdowns on seven of its first eight possessions. The one exception was Terry Godwin’s lost fumble attempting to field a punt in the first quarter. Joseph Norwood recovered at the Georgia 16 to set up the lone touchdown of the half for the Minutemen, a 5-yard scoring run by Marquis Young.
Finally, with 9:58 remaining in the third quarter, a Georgia drive ended short of the end zone when Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 40-yard field goal.
Otherwise, it was a productive half for Fields, Simmons and the Bulldogs. Simmons’ 49-yard run around right end capped Georgia’s three-play touchdown drive to open the game. Simmons added a 71-yard scoring catch from Jake Fromm early in the second quarter. Simmons used his speed to pull away from UMass defensive backs Norwood and Isaiah Rodgers.
Fields’ 47-yard run on his first possession set up his 11-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley. The run was Fields’ longest of the season.
Fromm was 5-for-5 passing for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Third-string quarterback Matthew Downing took over for Georgia to open the fourth quarter.
Georgia was without offensive linemen Kendall Baker (left knee) and Cade Mays (shoulder). Mays had started the last six games at right guard. Also, linebacker Monty Rice was on crutches, wearing a boot on his left foot, after apparently suffering an injury in pregame warmups.
Former Georgia tailbacks Nick Chubb, now with the Cleveland Browns, and Sony Michel, now with the New England Patriots, attended the game and earned ovations when featured during first-quarter timeouts. Chubb and Michel finished second and third, respectively, on Georgia’s career yards rushing, behind Herschel Walker.
UMass: Isabella, a semifinalist to win the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s top receiver, left a strong impression on the Bulldogs. Even when matched against Georgia’s top cover cornerback, Deandre Baker, Isabella was difficult to defend. The UMass defense, also beaten in a 55-21 loss at Boston College on Sept. 1 in its only other test against a Power Five team, couldn’t find a way to slow the Bulldogs.
Georgia: Fields continued to emerge in a more prominent role for Georgia. Known more for his running earlier this season, Fields showed impressive touch on deep passes, including his 57-yarder for a touchdown caught in stride by Mecole Hardman.
Favored by 41 points, Georgia delivered the lopsided win needed to likely protect its No. 5 spot in the Top 25.
UMass: The Minutemen open their 2019 season at Rutgers on Aug. 31.
Georgia: The Bulldogs close their regular season at home with their annual state rivalry game against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
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