Georgia experienced its share of lengthy afternoons in Jacksonville when the likes of Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow were quarterbacking Florida, but Kyle Trask set a new standard Saturday when it comes to torching the Bulldogs.
Trask set a Florida record for a regular-season game by throwing for 474 yards in leading the No. 8 Gators to a 44-28 whipping of No. 5 Georgia at TIAA Bank Field. The fifth-year senior completed 30 of 43 passes and had four touchdown tosses as the Gators tallied more points in three-plus hours against the Bulldogs than they did in the past three series setbacks, when Georgia outscored them 102-41.
"We have such an explosive offense, and we are such a great team from the top down," Trask said. "We just have a lot of offense and a lot of energy. We went down 14-0 early and had no panic. It just shows the character of this team. We're never going to get down or panic in any situation.
"We're always going to fight and take it one play at a time, and that's what we did."
Florida amassed 571 yards to just 277 by Georgia, which remains inconsistent at quarterback after Stetson Bennett and D'Wan Mathis combined to complete just seven of 26 passes for 108 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
The Bulldogs dropped to 4-2 and are suddenly on the outside looking in when it comes to a fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title. To make a fourth straight trip to the league championship contest, Georgia would need Florida (4-1) to lose two of its final five games.
"I don't look at this as cause for concern," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "You guys will create concern and people will write all kinds of things, and I respect that, because that's your job, but in our last 20 SEC East games, we were 19-1 until tonight. We went almost four seasons in which every game we played in, we controlled our own destiny, and this is the first time it's not that way.
"We're now 19-2 in the East, so I'm not going to say that the sky is falling. We've got to get our players to play better, and we've got to get explosive. I really feel like we can throw the ball. You may not see it in the stats, but anybody with an open eye could see that we had some guys open."
The Bulldogs are 5-3 in their past eight games dating to last season with decisive losses to LSU last December, Alabama last month and now Florida. Georgia allowed at least 37 points in each of those setbacks.
Florida coach Dan Mullen, who improved to 25-6 midway through his third season in Gainesville, scoffed when asked if Saturday was a changing of the divisional guard.
"I don't know about that," Mullen said. "We need to focus on Arkansas. I don't know if this will have an effect on next year's game, just like last year didn't affect this one."
Georgia could not have orchestrated a better start to the game, with running back Zamir White breaking free for a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. Following a three-and-out series by Florida, the Bulldogs were back at it with Bennett using a 12-yard run and a 13-yard pass to James Cook to set up a 32-yard scoring strike to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.
In that very temporary snapshot, Georgia led 14-0 and had racked up 136 yards while allowing just 3.
Bennett sustained a shot to his collarbone on his touchdown toss to Rosemy-Jacksaint, and a 57-yard kickoff return by Kearis Jackson after Florida's first touchdown was wasted when Bennett took a big third-down loss after fumbling the snap. Bennett went to the locker room to get checked out and briefly was replaced by Mathis, and he returned to a 21-21 game.
A vicious collision between Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Georgia safety Lewis Cine midway through the second quarter resulted in a targeting penalty and an ejection for Cine. That set the Gators up with a first down at Georgia's 28-yard line, and they quickly capitalized with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Trask to Kemore Gamble that put Florida up for the first time at 28-21.
The loss of Cine coupled with Richard LeCounte's absence due to a motorcycle wreck resulted in Georgia having to combat Florida's aerial attack without its two top safeties.
"I'm not going to make that excuse, because some of our guys who covered their backs were guys who have played," Smart said. "We had a couple of times where (linebackers) Monty (Rice) and Nakobi (Dean) had them. They ran the same play twice, and Tyrique Stevenson, who probably has the best ball skills on our team, was getting ready to jump up and pick it off, and he trips and falls.
"It hurt us when Lewis went out, because he's a really good player, but the guys who come in have to step up and play."
Georgia's troubles went from bad to worse when Jake Camarda, arguably the nation's top punter, shanked a 23-yarder in the final minute of the half that gave the Gators the ball at the Bulldogs' 48. Florida took advantage with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Trask to Trevon Grimes that capped a 38-7 closing run to the half in which Georgia's only score in that stretch was a 36-yard interception return by Stokes.
"We just couldn't continue putting points on the board," Jackson said. "The defense did all they could, but we just couldn't go out there and put points on the board when the opportunities were there."
The Bulldogs must regroup quickly before heading to Missouri, which had an open date Saturday.
"We know our playoff chances have been cut short, but we're a team and we're still together," Jackson said. "We still have to get better, because we have games to play. We can't let this loss define us as a team."
Said Stokes: "We've got to put this one behind us. It might suck and all that stuff, but we can't hold our heads or get down on ourselves at all."