The No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs and the No. 22 North Carolina Tar Heels battled each other Saturday evening in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.
In a game which predominantly featured smashmouth football, Georgia took home a 33-24 victory against a North Carolina team trying to find its way after the departure of electric QB Marquise Williams.
The hyped showdown began with everything but hype, with both teams ending their first drive with a punt.
Georgia began the fireworks, however, on their next possession, with QB Greyson Lambert firing a 25-yard strike to WR Isaiah McKenzie and star RB Nick Chubb throwing in a 22-yard run shortly after.
Chubb punched the game’s first score into the endzone, giving Georgia a 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
North Carolina’s offensive woes didn’t continue much longer, though, as the game would quickly turn into the T.J. Logan show.
Logan took two handoffs from Tar Heel QB Mitch Trubisky for 35 and 16 yards, respectively, to put North Carolina 1 yard from the goal-line, where Trubisky would run in the surprise bootleg to put HC Larry Fedora’s team on the board.
The momentum would continue for North Carolina when Bulldog RB Brendan Douglas fumbled the ball in the red zone, giving the Tar Heels a huge break despite the fact the end result of the drive following the recovery was a punt.
An interesting through-line over the course of the game was the decision of Georgia HC Kirby Smart to nearly alternate which one of his quarterbacks played each drive.
Though Greyson Lambert started for the Bulldogs, Jacob Eason, the nation’s top QB prospect, entered the game to lead the drive following Georgia’s first score.
Eason played until the conclusion of the first half, after which Georgia held a 14-10 lead on the Tar Heels; Georgia’s second touchdown came courtesy of Bulldog RB Brian Herrien’s 19-yard scoring run.
North Carolina started the second half off with a bang.
Tar Heels speedster, RB and return man T.J. Logan took the second half kickoff to the house, covering 94 yards in 14 seconds.
With Georgia K William Ham missing a 42-yard FG on the ensuing drive, led by Greyson Lambert, and T.J. Logan taking the Tar Heels with him on a 21-yard TD run, North Carolina took a commanding 24-14 lead with 6:34 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
But alas, what’s a college football game without drama?
Georgia HC Smart subbed Eason back into the game for Lambert and proceeded to watch Eason chuck a 17-yard TD to WR Isaiah McKenzie to cut the North Carolina lead to 3.
The tide officially turned when the Tar Heels’ Trubisky panicked in his own end zone and threw a pass to a covered Elijah Hood, who promptly got dropped for a safety, cutting the once size-able Carolina lead to a single point.
The Tar Heels blew their chance to pad their lead again by punting on their first drive of the 4th quarter, giving Georgia K William Ham the chance to knock through a 29-yard FG to give the Bulldogs their first lead since a few seconds after the start of the second half.
Leading to that critical field goal for the Bulldogs was this gem from true freshman QB Jacob Eason, a 51-yard bomb to WR Isaiah McKenzie.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t look back.
As their defense confined North Carolina to punt after punt after punt, Georgia’s Nick Chubb drove the nail in the coffin with the game’s final score, a monster 55-yard run with 3:34 left in the final frame.
Mitch Trubisky didn’t give North Carolina fans much to be excited about over the course of the game, revealing his decision-making and mechanical flaws.
Nick Chubb, on the other hand, put up an incredible 222 yards, the most ever given up by a Tar Heels team in an opening game, and 2 TDs, loudly confirming his return from the gruesome PCL tear he suffered in 2015 that cut his season short.
One interesting thing to watch for Georgia fans: the competition between Greyson Lambert and Jacob Eason might be coming a lot earlier than most people expected.
Eason showed poise, composure in high-pressure situations and big-play ability.
Georgia will look to continue its winning ways Sept. 10 vs. the Nicholls State University Colonels, while North Carolina will look to bounce back vs the Illinois Fighting Illini on the same day.