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Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia Attendance: 92,746
Bowers catches 2 of Beck's 3 scoring passes to power No. 1 Georgia past UAB, 49-21
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Kirby Smart says players like tight end Brock Bowers have made it possible for him to have the best 100-game start of any coach in Southeastern Conference history.
Bowers caught two of Carson Beck's three touchdown passes, including a 41-yarder that helped No. 1 Georgia overcome a sluggish start, and the Bulldogs beat UAB 49-21 on Saturday night.
The win gave Smart an 85-15 record, the best mark through 100 games for a coach at any SEC school. The start includes back-to-back national championships the last two seasons.
“It seems fast, seems very fast,” Smart said of his 100th game before turning to Bowers. “It's fun when you've got guys like this guy with you.”
Beck threw for 337 yards and ran for a score for Georgia (4-0), which pulled away after the Blazers pulled even at 7-all early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs led 28-14 at halftime but Beck and other starters left the game when Georgia led 42-14 late in the third quarter.
Bowers was the reliable constant for Georgia's offense. The junior caught nine passes for 120 yards.
“We kind of wanted to start off fast and explosive,” Bowers said. “We came out and took a few shots. We started out pretty hot except for a few hiccups. I'm pretty happy about it.”
Georgia lost fumbles on punt and kickoff returns and failed to connect on some big-play chances in its passing game. The Bulldogs had more than enough offense to beat the Blazers (1-3) and extend their school-record winning streak to 21 games.
Beck threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Arian Smith, who was helped by a block from Bowers, on the Bulldogs' first possession. The quick score provided a misleading perception Georgia, favored by 41 1/2 points, would not be tested.
A fumble by Georgia's Mekhi Mews on a punt return set up UAB quarterback Jacob Zeno's 16-yard scoring pass to tight end Bryce Damous for the tie at 7. Dillon Bell lost a fumble on a kickoff return late in the first half following Zeno's second scoring pass, a 2-yarder to Amare Thomas.
Zeno added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“This gives us a lot of confidence and shows that we’re better than what it might seem in practice or those losses that we had a couple of weeks ago,” Zeno said. "So we’re going to be good. We’re going to be fine.”
Georgia also struggled with missed opportunities to complete deep passes. Smith was open deep when he had another deep pass bounce off his hands. Beck overthrew Jackson Meeks, also wide open, on another deep pass.
Georgia led only 14-7 before Bowers broke a tackle by Blazers linebacker Nikia Eason Jr. on his 41-yard scoring catch. Daijun Edwards' second scoring run pushed the lead to 28-7.
Beck's 1-yard scoring plunge gave Georgia a 35-14 lead early in the second half. He completed 22 of 32 passes.
“Carson had a couple throws he missed I think he’d like to have back but he was pretty accurate other than that,” Smart said. “H continues to be explosive and continues to protect the ball.”
Bowers' second scoring catch, a 10-yarder, extended the lead to 42-14.
Backup quarterback Brock Vandagriff led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive capped by Sevaughn Clark's 7-yard scoring run. UAB's Ricky Lee intercepted a pass by Georgia's third quarterback, Gunner Stockton, late in the game.
MILESTONES FOR BOWERS
Bowers topped 2,000 career receiving yards and passed Tavarres King for the No. 3 spot in school records with his 22nd touchdown catch. Bowers is one of only 10 players in Georgia history with at least 2,000 receiving yards.
Bowers posted his eighth game with at least 100 yards and seventh with two touchdowns.
MISSING IN ACTION
Xavier Truss moved from left guard to start at right tackle after the Bulldogs lost starter Amarius Mims to a left ankle injury last week. Dylan Fairchild filled in at guard. As expected, Georgia was without running backs Kendall Milton (knee) and Roderick Robinson (high ankle sprain). Wide receiver Ladd McConkey (back) missed his fourth consecutive game.
Safety Javon Bullard (ankle) and defensive end Mykel Williams (illness) also were held out.
UAB: Zeno was productive but couldn't match his average passing totals in first-year coach Trent Dilfer's offense. Zeno, a 6-foot-4 junior, entered the game fifth in the nation with his average of 318.7 passing yards per game. He passed for 250 yards while completing 32 of 51 passes with two touchdowns and one interception. Zeno had eight carries for 22 yards, including a 3-yard scoring run.
Georgia: The slow start probably wasn't enough to drop the Bulldogs from their No. 1 spot in The AP Top 25, but the turnovers and misfires did not make for the smooth performance Smart wanted. Georgia's defense delivered another strong effort even though the Blazers' two touchdowns matched the most allowed by the Bulldogs this season.
UAB: The Blazers will play their first American Athletic Conference game at Tulane next Saturday after making the move from Conference USA.
Georgia: The Bulldogs, who won their Southeastern Conference opener over South Carolina, 24-14, on Sept. 16, begin a string of seven straight SEC games when they visit Auburn next Saturday. The Tigers lost to Texas A&M 27-10 in their SEC opener on Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll
Updated September 24, 2023