ATHENS, Ga. – A solid debut from true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm and a stout defensive effort led the 15th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs to a 31-10 season-opening victory in front of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.
Fromm, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., finished with an efficient 10-of-15 passing for 143 yards and one touchdown. He was aided by senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who combined for 183 yards and three scores.
The Georgia defense was equally impressive in its 2017 debut. The Bulldogs held the Mountaineers to just 94 yards in the second half and 284 total on the day.
“That was a long time coming for our kids,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “They’ve worked really hard. We have a lot of respect for Appalachian State. Our team played really hard in the second half. Our kids were persistent. We talked about chopping wood and keeping it going.”
Following an injury to starting quarterback Jacob Eason on the third possession of the game, Fromm took the reins of the Bulldog offense. The rookie looked sharp, leading Georgia on a 4-play, 39-yard drive on the next possession, which was capped off by Chubb’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Fromm and senior wide receiver Javon Wims then connected on a heave to the end zone, resulting in a 34-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
“We didn’t have to make a lot of adjusting,” Smart added. “Jacob and Jake have similar qualities. Jake’s a good player and we’re excited about what he can do. Jake managed the game well. We’ll keep working to get him better.”
The Bulldog defense, which finished the half by holding the Mountaineers to 190 yards of total offense, held once again to set up Georgia’s next score. This time, it was a 6-yard touchdown plunge from Michel that put his team up 21-0 going into the locker room.
That balanced trend continued in the second half as Georgia scored on its first two offensive possessions - one coming off a 23-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship, followed by an 8-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in Chubb’s second touchdown run of the game.
Appalachian State added two late scores with under six minutes remaining in the game, but Georgia improved to 94-27-3 all-time in season-opening games with the 31-10 victory. The Bulldogs have now won 18 of their last 21 openers and are 2-0 in opening games under Smart.
Statistically, Georgia was paced by Chubb’s 15 rushes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while Michel had 16 rushes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson and junior linebacker Roquan Smith led the Bulldogs in tackles with six a piece.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday, Sept. 9 at Notre Dame. Kickoff for that contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET in South Bend, Ind., with the game set to air on NBC.