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After an abysmal first half, the United States came up just short to Georgia 21-17 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Eagles trailed 18-3 and the deficit was too much to overcome despite a strong second half surge.
In the first half, the Eagles made a litany of handling errors, the first of which led to the opening score for Georgia. After a poorly executed pass found ground, the Eagles were being pushed backwards. The United States recovered the ball and AJ MacGinty tried to clear pressure with a kick. The kick went very short, however, and bounded into the hands of fullback Merab Kvirikashvili, who outflanked the defense and cut back inside the last man to take a 5-0 lead.
After MacGinty got the United States on the board with a penalty, Kvirikashvili made the Eagles pay for ill discipline with a pair of three pointers. The problems persisted late into the first half for the Eagles as Georgia repeatedly punished the United States in the scrum. The visitors tallied five consecutive scrum penalties, eventually leading to a yellow card to Chris Baumann and a penalty try to Georgia. With the try coming right on halftime, the away side went into the break up 18-3.
A penalty early in the second half extended the Georgia lead to 21-3 but after the score the United States slowly worked its way back into the game. After winning several penalties, and a series of phases, substitute Nate Augspurger found himself wide open out wide to cut the lead to 21-10.
With 15 minutes to play, Georgia saw a player sent to the sin bin for hitting Mike Te’o in the air. The Eagles continued to press and BYU’s Matt Jensen found his way into the try zone. Ben Cima had a nifty offload to Te’o who found a gap. The Belmont Shore player used a one handed offload to Jensen, who tapped it to himself to corral possession. The big lock displayed some nice speed, sprinting into the try zone from just outside the 22-meter line to cut the lead to 21-17 with eight minutes to play.
Georgia went to back to full strength with roughly five minutes to play. The visitors continued to disrupt the United States in the scrum and earned a penalty with little time left. The kick sailed wide and the Eagles had a final opportunity to complete the comeback.
The Eagles pushed forward but were eventually taken into touch and Georgia held on for the 21-17 victory. It was a solid second half for the US but a poor start, bad handling, and an ineffective scrum ultimately derailed the United States.