ATHENS, Ga. — As the leader of the nation's top defense, Jordan Davis has produced enough highlights this season to receive some Heisman Trophy hype. He made another memory in his farewell to Sanford Stadium.
The standout tackle scored the first touchdown of his Georgia career, and the Bulldogs were dominant again in a 56-7 rout of Charleston Southern on Saturday.
Davis began the afternoon among the 30 seniors honored in a pregame ceremony. He ended it directing the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band and was presented a red uniform jacket as an honorary member.
"If today was not my favorite memory, I don't know what to tell you," Davis said.
Georgia (11-0) was in full control against Charleston Southern (4-6), an overmatched Football Championship Subdivision program from the Big South Conference. The Buccaneers fell to 0-25 all time against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The Bulldogs allowed only 126 yards — 68 rushing on 31 carries and 58 passing.
"Man, tough when you are playing the No. 1 team in the country," said Charleston Southern coach Autrey Denson. "There is no room for error, so we had to play a perfect game, our best game of the season. Unfortunately, we did not do that in all phases, but man did they compete their tails off."
The Bulldogs installed a goal-line play for Davis in practice during the week, but there was no guarantee they would use it. As it turned out, Davis didn't have to wait very long as he scored on a 1-yard plunge from Georgia's jumbo package for the game's first touchdown.
It's not often that quarterback Stetson Bennett has the opportunity to hand the ball to a 6-foot-6, 340-pound running back.
"That was my whole job on the play, make sure he gets the ball and gets the right handoff," Bennett said. "Make sure he gets in the end zone. It was pretty cool."
Davis had previously played in the package as a blocker, but fans roared in anticipation when the massive lineman shifted to the backfield. Davis was stopped on his first run from the 2-yard line. The crowd cheered again when he was given a second carry and scored from the 1.
The celebration with teammates began in the end zone and continued on the sideline.
"I felt like it was just a way to honor me and send me out with a bang," Davis said. "I was excited, just knowing the team was behind me."
Tight end Brock Bowers had two touchdown catches, and four Georgia players ran for a touchdown. Zamir White rushed for 83 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, on only four carries.
Bennett and JT Daniels split time at quarterback. Bennett threw touchdown passes of 32 yards to Kenny McIntosh and 4 yards to Bowers.
Daniels, who began the season as the starter but then missed time while injured, took over in the second quarter and added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bowers. Carson Beck, Georgia's third-string quarterback, took over in the second half after Georgia led 49-0; he added the Bulldogs' fourth touchdown pass when he found tight end Brett Seither.
The defense, which recorded back-to-back shutouts over Vanderbilt and Arkansas in the first half of the season, began the day leading the nation with only 7.6 points allowed per game.
The Bucs finally were given reason to celebrate — and were penalized for doing so — when they scored on a two-turnover play in the third quarter to avoid the shutout.
Jack Chambers' pass was deflected and Georgia's Xavian Sorey caught the deflection for an interception before losing the ball on his return. Garris Schwarting grabbed the ball from Sorey and ran 65 yards for the touchdown. Charleston Southern was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after the score.
Bennett's second pass of the game was intercepted by linebacker Garrett Sayegh, but it was not an indication of a letdown. The Bulldogs made few mistakes after that.
Most important, Georgia avoided injuries as it prepares for the Southeastern Conference championship game. The East Division champion for the fourth time in five years, Georgia will face Alabama — which wrapped up the right to represent the SEC West with Saturday's home win against Arkansas — on Dec. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Coach Kirby Smart gave valuable playing time to backups Saturday, when the Bulldogs had six players with carries of 11 yards or more, and 10 players had catches of at least 10 yards.
Smart encouraged all eligible seniors to participate in Saturday's pregame ceremony, though many have the option to return for an extra year granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bulldogs close the regular season by visiting nonconference rival Georgia Tech next Saturday. It will be the first series meeting since Georgia's 52-7 win in 2019, the Bulldogs' third consecutive victory against the Yellow Jackets. The game was not played last season due to the pandemic as Georgia played an all-SEC schedule.