OXFORD, Miss. -- Kenarious Gates limped off the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with something between a smile and a grimace on his face. His Georgia teammates had defeated Ole Miss 27-13, outgaining the Rebels by 292 yards.
The offensive line, where Gates starts at left guard, was able to overcome a number of personnel moves and wound up controlling the line of scrimmage, as well as the time of possession. The Bulldogs held the ball for more than 38 minutes. Gates and company even engineered a 99-yard scoring drive in the second quarter that put the Bulldogs ahead 17-0.
Gates normally would be all smiles after such a victory, but he played every one of Georgia's 82 snaps in pain. He had missed the last two games because of a high ankle sprain he suffered against Boise State. With the Bulldogs losing starting right guard Chris Burnette earlier in the week due to a knee injury, Gates was told Wednesday that he would be starting, pain or no pain.
"Coach [Will] Friend told me to, 'Stay strong and fight through the pain. We need you,' " Gates said. "I was limited in what I could do."
The Bulldogs already were depleted along the offensive line, and the loss of Burnette was a big blow. Had Gates not been able to come back for Saturday's game, Georgia would have started true freshman David Andrews. But Gates was cleared to play, and Dallas Lee, who had been filling in for Gates at left guard, moved over to right guard. The patchwork line was able to pick push the Bulldogs to 207 rushing yards.
"We did well as a unit. We drove the ball down the field," Gates said. "We came to dominate, and that is what we did."
Not that it was easy.
"I told Ben [Jones, the center], 'I am going to make it through; I am going to fight through the pain.' Probably towards the end of the game as I kept going on it, it got really sore," Gates said. "I was around 80 percent."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was pleased with the offensive line's performance.
"I thought the line played great. It was good to see Gates suck it up on a bad ankle," Bobo said. "We've got to get healthy at the guard spot, with Burnette being out and Gates being gimpy. We've got to get both those guys back healthy. I thought the line really played well up front and dominated the line of scrimmage.
"Linemen are never going to be 100 percent, and you have to suck it up for the football team."
Running back Isaiah Crowell had 147 yards on 30 carries and credited his success to the men up front.
"I think they blocked well," Crowell said. "This game and the South Carolina game are the ones they did the best."
Not all went well for the Bulldogs linemen, as quarterback Aaron Murray was sacked three times.
"On one of them I believe [right tackle] Justin Anderson thought it was a draw and didn't block the defensive end," Bobo said. "Another one, I think the back missed, so one was on the line and one was on the backs.
"Every week that group has gotten better and will continue to get better. Being able to run the ball and having a good running back helps those guys. We could have been a little bit better today in spots. We have a chance to be pretty successful."
Radi Nabulsi covers University of Georgia athletics for DawgNation. He can be reached at RadiNabulsiESPN@gmail.com.