Defense comes up big with turnovers

The Georgia defense provided the offense with four turnovers but the Dawgs could only manage 10 points in the Florida victory.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Boss Bailey recorded the first two interceptions of his career, including one in the end zone, but he couldn't celebrate.

Terreal Bierria recovered two fumbles, forcing one, and led Georgia with eight tackles, but he also wore the long face of the losing team Saturday.

Entering the game, Georgia might have expected to win if its offense was given the ball four times by turnovers that helped limit Florida to 24 points — 20 points below its average.

But because Florida's defense continually frustrated Georgia, the combined four turnovers delivered by Bailey and Bierria were not enough.

"We made some good plays getting turnovers, but it's hard to be happy about turnovers when we did not get points off them,'' said Bailey, a junior linebacker. "The defense was out there trying to stop the big plays. We didn't make enough big plays of our own to give the offense more opportunities.''

Georgia gave up 407 yards passing and 584 total yards — Florida's high total in this series. Even so, Coach Mark Richt called the defensive effort good enough for a win if the offense had carried its load.

Both of Bailey's interceptions came in the first quarter. His first theft stopped Florida's game-opening drive on the Georgia 44. The pass was off Jabar Gaffney's hands and Bailey jugged the deflection before making the catch.

With Florida leading 10-3 and driving again, Bailey saved a touchdown when he intercepted a pass intended for Ran Carthon.

"It was kind of bittersweet,'' Bailey said. "The turnovers are big; we just have to capitalize on them.''

Bailey now shares the team lead for interceptions with Tim Wansley.

Meanwhile, Bierria recovered a fumble by Jabar Gaffney, who lost the ball when hit by linebacker Tony Gilbert in the second quarter. Bierria, a junior free safety, caused Florida's fourth turnover when he stripped running back Earnest Graham and recovered the ball in the third quarter.

"After all that happened early, it looked like ‘How could (Florida) win with all the stuff that's happening?' '' said Florida coach Steve Spurrier. "Our guys hung in there and kept Georgia out of the end zone.''

Georgia managed a field goal after Bailey's first interception and scored a touchdown after Bierria's first fumble recovery. But the Bulldogs could not convert the other two gifts into points.

"They made plays and we didn't,'' Bierria said. "They capitalized on opportunities and we didn't. That's what the game came down to.''

Charles Odum can be reached at CEOdum@aol.com.


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