CHARLOTTE – Fifth-ranked Georgia entered the halftime locker room with a 7-0 lead over Clemson at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night thanks to outstanding defensive play.
The Bulldogs broke gridlock in the scoreless game with 2:58 to play in the half with a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown by Christopher Smith.
Georgia held the Tigers to 90 yards of total offense and one yard on 10 rushing attempts. Clemson matched the defensive intensity holding the Bulldogs to 110 total yards in the opening half.
In the first quarter, the Bulldogs pinned Clemson deep in its own territory with drives that started at its own 10, its own 2 and its most favorable start at its own 20-yard line.
Georgia took full advantage of the tough field position and swarmed the Tigers with a pair of sacks in the first fifteen minutes and three in the half.
Georgia got an opportunity to score with a 12 play 44-yard drive at the end of the first quarter and set up a 36-yard field goal attempt for Jack Podlensy that was missed and gave the ball back to the Tigers with 14:19 to play in the second quarter.
Then with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter, after Georgia muffed a punt and gave the Tigers the ball at midfield, Smith jumped in front of Justyn Ross to intercept D.J. Uiagalelei’s pass and return it for a 74 touchdown to give Georgia a 7-0 lead.
Clemson finished the first half 2-for-8 on third down as it struggled to find momentum offensively. And Uiagalelei finished 10-of-20 for 89 yards and an interception.