JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The emotion Saturday night was raw and very real.
With Georgia's 24-20 victory over Florida seconds old, Bulldogs right tackle Justin Anderson ran around EverBank Field yelling, "We got 'em! We don't have to listen to this anymore!"
Anderson was among those who could talk, because center Ben Jones was choked up with tears.
Tight ends coach John Lilly grabbed tight end Orson Charles at midfield and pointed to one side of the stadium, where the Bulldogs supporters were jubilant, and then to the other, where the Florida fans already had exited.
And when it was time for Georgia coach Mark Richt to address the media and discuss his third win over the Gators in 11 tries, he said, "What a blessing."
For only the fourth time in 22 years, the Bulldogs are celebrating a victory over the Gators, and this one began like so many others in the past two decades because Florida jumped up 17-3. When backup tailback Richard Samuel broke through for a 4-yard touchdown with 13:18 remaining, it put the Bulldogs ahead 24-20, which was their first lead in the rivalry since they last defeated the Gators in 2007.
Georgia's defense, which held Florida to one first down in the second half, made it stand, and the on-field emotion that followed may have been the greatest for the Bulldogs since their 2002 win at Auburn.
"I just think it stems from Coach Richt's message the whole year, about how we're on this bus and that we're going to fight no matter what happens, good or bad," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "It was a little bit of playing Florida and the struggles we've had. Getting behind and coming back like that, we could have easily folded, and we could have folded when we started out 0-2.
"We were getting questioned when we got to 5-2, because people were saying we were not doing anything. I don't care what anybody says, but it bothers our players sometimes, and we wanted to use that as motivation."
Saturday's result offered a reprieve for Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, a Tampa resident who threw three interceptions in last year's 34-31 overtime loss to the Gators. Murray wasn't crisp in the rematch, completing 15 of 34 attempts for 169 yards, but he was intercepted just once and had fourth-down touchdown tosses to Michael Bennett and Tavarres King.
"It's a great feeling," Murray said. "To have all this hype surrounding this rivalry and the fact Florida has won so many times -- we just couldn't worry about that. This team was 0-0 against Florida, and right now we're 1-0."
Florida, meanwhile, dropped to 4-4 and is out of the SEC title picture with four consecutive conference setbacks. The Gators often were their own worst enemy Saturday, losing two costly fumbles and committing 14 penalties for 106 yards.
The Gators allowed six sacks and finished with minus-19 rushing yards.
"We've got to build our numbers back," first-year coach Will Muschamp said. "It's very difficult to run a power running game with who we have. I like the guys we've got, but it's just the bottom line when you look at some situations of where we are.
"It doesn't take anybody real educated to figure it out right now."
The unquestioned star of Saturday's game, which took place before a crowd of 84,524, was Jarvis Jones. Georgia's redshirt sophomore outside linebacker sacked Florida's John Brantley four times, the most sacks by a Bulldogs player since Charles Grant against Auburn in 2001.
Jones, who transferred from Southern Cal, was playing in his first Georgia-Florida game.
"Our defense and our offense came out to play, and everybody did their job," Jones said. "We feel like any time we're on the field, we can control what happens."
The Bulldogs host New Mexico State this Saturday, while the Gators host Vanderbilt.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...