ATHENS, Ga. — The Deep South's oldest football rivalry continues to trend in a red-and-black direction.
Georgia sophomore running back D'Andre Swift delivered a swift knockout blow to longtime rival Auburn with a 77-yard touchdown run barely a minute into the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for the Bulldogs in their 27-10 triumph over the Tigers.
Swift, who had his collegiate career-best 156 rushing yards in a 34-17 whipping of Kentucky a week earlier, topped that Saturday night in front of a sold-out Sanford Stadium crowd of 92,746 by totaling 186 yards on 17 carries.
"It's amazing, but I'm more happy with the win," Swift said. "J.J. Holloman and all the receivers did a great job of blocking, and the O-line did a great job. I just had to make one man miss, and the rest is history."
The Bulldogs, who are No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, improved to 9-1 overall and wrapped up a second consecutive 7-1 Southeastern Conference record. Georgia already had won the SEC East title before defeating Auburn for the 11th time in their past 14 meetings.
Auburn, which entered No. 24 in the playoff rankings, dropped to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play. Saturday marked the fifth straight occasion in which Auburn traveled to Sanford Stadium and failed to score an offensive touchdown after the first quarter.
The Tigers held a 53-48-8 series advantage after a 31-30 win at Georgia in 2005, but the Bulldogs now lead it 59-56-8.
Swift's big night helped the Bulldogs amass 303 rushing yards and average 6.6 yards per carry. Georgia wound up with 516 yards overall and with a whopping 38 minutes and 15 seconds of possession time.
Bulldogs sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm complemented Swift by completing 13 of 20 passes for 193 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Fromm's biggest pass of the night occurred on fourth-and-3 at Auburn's 38-yard line, when he connected down the middle with Terry Godwin for a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit advantage at 20-10 with 21 seconds remaining in the first half. Godwin got behind Tigers cornerback Jordyn Peters and kept him in pursuit until reaching the goal line.
"It was a great play call and something we worked on all week," Fromm said. "Terry does a great job in space. I actually thought that was my hardest pass of the night, because he was so open and you don't want to miss him. He ran a great route, and I'm really glad we scored."
Said Godwin: "There was a coverage we were going to get in a certain situation, and Fromm picked me to throw it to, and I answered."
After Auburn's opening drive stalled at midfield, the Bulldogs took their first possession 80 yards in 10 plays before settling for a 25-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal. Georgia had first-and-goal from the 2, but Elijah Holyfield lost 2 yards on first down, backup quarterback Justin Fields was sacked for a 4-yard loss on second down and Fromm threw incomplete.
The Tigers took their second possession 75 yards in eight plays and grabbed a 7-3 lead when running back Boobie Whitlow headed left and then pulled up and threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Samuel Shenker.
Auburn held a 7-6 lead and had first-and-goal at Georgia's 5-yard line midway through the second quarter, but Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham overthrew Shenker on second down and couldn't connect with Seth Williams on third. They had to settle on a short Anders Carlson field goal and a 10-6 lead.
The Bulldogs quickly responded, with Mecole Hardman's 41-yard kickoff return igniting an eight-play, 59-yard drive that culminated with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Tyler Simmons. Georgia got an opportunity for its 20-10 halftime advantage when Stidham overthrew an open Whitlow on third-and-3 from the Auburn 24, which resulted in the Bulldogs taking over at their own 31 with two minutes left in the half.
Georgia and Auburn will each step out of conference play this week, with the Bulldogs hosting Massachusetts and the Tigers welcoming Liberty.
"The games will get harder, and big players have to make big plays in big games," Swift said. "This was a very significant win. We were playing for a lot more than what they were playing for, so we didn't want them to mess up our future."
Odds and ends
Swift's 186 yards were the most by a Georgia running back since Nick Chubb opened the 2016 season with 222 against North Carolina. ... Sophomore weakside linebacker Monty Rice led the Bulldogs in tackles with nine. ... Georgia freshman defensive back Otis Reese made his first start of the season, while Bulldogs senior center Lamont Gaillard started his 38th consecutive game a week after leaving the win at Kentucky with a hyperextended knee. Former Bulldogs starting right guard Ben Cleveland, who sustained a broken fibula at Missouri on Sept. 22, returned to that spot with five minutes left in Saturday's game after an injury to Kendall Baker. ... Blankenship is now 17-for-19 on field-goal attempts this season. ... Auburn sophomore defensive end Big Kat Bryant was ejected for targeting on a sack of Fromm early in the second quarter. ... Two Carolina Panthers and former Auburn-Georgia participants, quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Thomas Davis, attended Saturday night's game.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.