Georgia couldn’t stop Missouri, even when the Tigers lost injured quarterback James Franklin, and the No. 7 Bulldogs fell to No. 25 Missouri 41-26 on Saturday for their first home loss since 2011.
Missouri led by 18 points in the first half before Georgia (4-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) cut the lead to 28-26 in the fourth quarter. But Aaron Murray threw two fourth-quarter interceptions to hurt the comeback bid.
“We missed too many opportunities and the turnovers killed us,” Murray said. “We can’t give away the ball like we did and win a game like that. Both picks were forced throws trying to put the ball into tight spots where I probably should have checked down.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Franklin separated his right shoulder.
Freshman Maty Mauk, who replaced Franklin in the fourth quarter, could start when Missouri (6-0, 2-0) plays No. 17 Florida next week.
Murray also lost one of Georgia’s two fumbles.
James Ponder’s interception of Murray’s pass with 4:25 remaining set up Henry Josey’s 7-yard touchdown run to end Georgia’s hopes.
The loss ended Georgia’s 15-game home winning streak.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said turnovers helped decide the game.
“It was 4-0 on the turnovers,” Richt said. “They did a really good job of securing the ball, and we didn’t. You hear coaches say it over and over, but you can’t win a game turning it over like that.”
The Bulldogs had won four straight on the strength of a powerful offense, including 44-41 over LSU and 34-31 in overtime over Tennessee the last two weeks. Georgia’s wave of injuries at tailback and wide receiver left Murray with too many inexperienced backups at the skill positions to keep pace against another high-scoring opponent.
Georgia almost filled a bench on its sideline with injured players who wore their red game jerseys over black warm-up pants. Among them was star tailback Todd Gurley (ankle).
Georgia was also without running back Keith Marshall (right knee) and three of its best receivers.
Freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas filled in at tailback. Green had 12 carries for 87 yards, including a 57-yard run. Douglas had 14 carries for 70 yards.
Georgia starting safety Tray Matthews, who hurt his hamstring in practice Tuesday, also did not play.
Murray threw his second interception in the final minute. He completed 25 of 45 passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns.
“We had plenty of chances to tie it up, but we just didn’t execute,” Murray said.
“We did a pretty good job of getting back in the game. We were within two points of tying it up but just couldn’t quite get it done.”
The loss of so many top threats on offense was the big news of the week for Georgia, but season-long problems on defense were just as glaring against Missouri. The Bulldogs began the day 12th in the SEC in pass defense and last in the league with its average of 32.2 points allowed.
Georgia has allowed 30 or more points in five or its six games.
“We went out and didn’t take care of business when it counted,” said defensive end Ray Drew, who had two sacks. “We had some trouble getting some stops.”
Missouri receiver Bud Sasser threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to L’Damian Washington in the fourth quarter after Franklin’s injury.
Mauk threw a lateral to Sasser, who stopped and tossed a high, deep pass to the end zone for Washington. Washington, who outfought cornerback Damian Swann for the catch, had 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Franklin completed 18 of 27 passes for 170 yards. Marcus Murphy had a 36-yard touchdown run for the Tigers.
Defensive end Michael Sam returned a fumble recovery 21 yards for a touchdown to give Missouri a 28-10 lead late in the second quarter. Murray fumbled when he was sacked by defensive end Shane Ray.
Georgia rallied as Murray threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to Rantavious Wooten in the third quarter and 10 yards to Chris Conley early in the fourth quarter.
Georgia needed help from three Missouri penalties, including two offside calls, for its only touchdown drive of the first half which ended with Murray’s 7-yard scoring pass to Douglas late in the first quarter.
Missouri outscored Georgia 28-3 the remainder of the half.