2010 Game By Game Results



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Dawgs fall to Central Florida in Liberty Bowl 10 - 6 

MEMPHIS – Georgia and its fans said good riddance to the 2010 football season on the final afternoon of a year they would rather soon forget.

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, who caught eight passes for 77 yards and was one of the offense’s few bright spots, may have played his final game with the Bulldogs in Friday’s 10-6 loss to Central Florida.
David Tulis

Central Florida delivered the final body blow to the Bulldogs, 10-6, on Friday in the Liberty Bowl.

Georgia, just three seasons removed from a Sugar Bowl win and a No. 2 final national ranking, finished with a 6-7 record, its first losing season since 1996 in Jim Donnan’s first year as coach.

"It’s embarrassing to be a part of a losing season," junior kicker Blair Walsh said. "It absolutely is. My three years here haven’t been what I’ve wanted them to be success- and team-wise, and we’ll change that. The culture of the program is changing and I think the players are changing as well. We’ve got a new regime of seniors coming and we’ll go from there."

Georgia suffered its first loss to a team from a non-BCS conference under coach Mark Richt and saw its four-game bowl winning streak snapped.

"We’re all disappointed," Richt said. "We didn’t want to finish with a loss, we didn’t finish with a losing record. Nobody would have probably predicted that, but it is what it is they say."

Central Florida (11-3) set a program record for victories. After its first bowl win in program history, they were hawking UCF "Liberty Bowl Champions" T-shirts for fans leaving Memorial Stadium.

There were no championships at Georgia this season.

"The attitude needs to change," Walsh said. "We’re not entitled to win any games. Even though its UCF and Conference USA, I think we felt like that we were entitled to win that game and you can’t feel that way."

Georgia failed to score a touchdown and mustered its lowest output in a bowl game since a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh in the 1977 Sugar Bowl.

That would have been hard to see coming considering that the Bulldogs were riding a school-record seven straight games of 30 or more points scored.

Georgia still led 6-3 until UCF scored the game’s only touchdown with 9:01 to play on a 10-yard touchdown run from Latavius Murray (104 yards on 18 carries).

The Bulldogs managed just 280 yards of total offense on a day quarterback Aaron Murray threw two interceptions and was sacked three times while completing 21 of 38 passes for 198 yards.

UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey also threw two interceptions on the windy day while completing 16 of 29 passes for 117 yards.

Murray, who was unavailable to comment after the game after sustaining a gash beside his right eye, threw his first interceptions since the one he threw against Florida in overtime.

"They’re a hell of a defense," said Georgia junior receiver A.J. Green, who had eight catches for 77 yards in what is widely expected to be his final game as Bulldog. "They had a really good game plan for me. They kept me in front of them and contained me very well."

All of Georgia’s points came from Walsh, who kicked field goals of 20 and 41 yards.

Georgia coaches said UCF focused on not giving up the big play.

"They just did what they needed to do when it counted the most," Richt said. "It wasn’t a lack of fight or effort on our guys’ part."

Georgia did not have a play longer than 18 yards until Kris Durham’s 30-yard catch with 45 seconds to play on a fourth-and-5 to advance the ball to the UCF 29. The Bulldogs got a clutch 14-yard catch from Green on fourth down earlier to keep the drive that started with 2:20 left at its own 20 alive.

"When I made that fourth-down catch, I thought, ‘We got it,’ " Green said.

After Durham’s catch, the Bulldogs went nowhere.

The last-ditch try came from the 38 with two seconds left, but the pass was batted down in the end zone with Tavarres King and Orson Charles among the players nearby.

"They did a great job of mixing up some things that they hadn’t done, a lot more blitzes than they had done," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "It wasn’t our best outing by any means offensively, but we were still in the ballgame and just kept saying, ‘Hey all we’ve got to do is make a play, make a first down, get this thing going.’ We were unable to do that."

The Bulldogs failed to convert on an early scoring chance when Washaun Ealey gained just a yard on a third-and-2 from the UCF 3 in the first quarter.

On fourth-and-1, Richt had Walsh trot on and kick the chip-shot 20-yarder.

Asked if he had to do it over again, Richt said: "Well, if I knew what the final score was, yeah. I think it was the right thing to do at the time. … I thought it was important to put points on the board."

Bobo said he saw frustration set in when the Bulldogs didn’t score.

"You just see some anger from kids not necessarily at coaches or each other, but frustrated that we’re not scoring or worried about trying to do too much," Bobo said.

There was plenty of frustration to go around this season, a year that included losses at Mississippi State, at Colorado and now against UCF.

The Knights had never even been to a bowl game before 2005 and have a roster with players who mostly had been passed over by SEC programs.

That’s the state of a Georgia’s program, where the new year couldn’t get here soon enough.

That includes Richt, who said that "2010 is over, 2011 is upon us. I think everybody’s looking forward to that."

 

Somehow, Georgia’s coaches and players managed to dial up a season-ending performance that fits this season to a T.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray fumbles during Friday's Liberty Bowl loss in Memphis. Georgia lineman Cordy Glenn recovered the fumble.


Friday’s 10-6 loss to Central Florida – sending Georgia to a 6-7 record and its first losing season since 1996 – brought out many of the elements that have so frequently frustrated the Bulldog faithful over the last couple of years.

Watching this Georgia team lay an egg is nothing new in this mind-boggling season, but watching the Bulldogs show up so flat, against such an underwhelming opponent, had to surprise even those who came to expect little as this season progressed.

This was an uninspired effort from everyone involved, which is the wrong way to enter the offseason when so much is at stake for the Mark Richt’s program in 2011.

There was nothing the Bulldogs could do in Memphis to salvage what had already become Richt’s worst season in Athens, but there was something they could do to ensure that this will also be the most bitter offseason in Richt’s tenure. They played like they’d much rather be hanging out on Beale Street or eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches over at Graceland than actually playing another game.

It started early, as Richt opted for a chip-shot field goal to take a 3-0 lead rather than go for a first down or touchdown on fourth-and-1 at the UCF 3, after the Bulldogs had driven 95 yards to that point. The Bulldogs had a chance to make an early statement and they instead let the Knights gain a measure of confidence after a goal-line stop – and such conservatism simply didn’t make much sense given the relatively low stakes involved in a largely meaningless bowl game.

Yet again, Georgia’s offensive line was overpowered at the point of attack, to the tune of 82 rushing yards on 32 attempts. The group that was supposed to be one of the driving forces behind the Bulldogs’ offense this season also surrendered three sacks and committed an enormously costly chop-blocking penalty in the fourth quarter that nullified a Washaun Ealey run to near midfield.

Yes, Central Florida came into the game ranked 10th in the nation against the run, but the Knights posted those numbers against the likes of Memphis, Tulane and South Dakota. Apparently Georgia’s running game is no better, as only two teams rushed for fewer yards against the Knights this year than did the Bulldogs.

The gloved one, Aaron Murray, and his counterparts at Georgia’s skill positions didn’t fare much better, save for a couple of impressive plays near the end of the game as the Bulldogs desperately tried to pull a victory out of their collectively clinched rear ends.

Murray tossed a pair of ugly second-quarter interceptions, but his defense was at least good enough to bail him out with a Brandon Boykin interception in the end zone, followed by a stand that held UCF to a game-tying 22-yard field goal.

Aside from the defense’s reasonably effective play against an average offense, there is almost nothing to compliment about the Bulldogs’ performance on Friday.

And this could very well be the Bulldogs’ final game without A.J. Green, who provided 77 receiving yards before now facing the decision over whether to return to a college program that’s fighting against the deepening quicksand or to accept sure millions as a high-first-round NFL draft pick.

What does Georgia’s offense do without Green there to keep drives alive with his trademark circus catches next year?

That’s a difficult question Richt and his staff will have to ponder for nine months before the Bulldogs take the Georgia Dome turf against Boise State. Right now, there is no obvious answer as to how the Bulldogs will remain viable on offense or whether the defense will take a step forward in Year 2 under Todd Grantham to pick up some of the slack in the post-A.J. era.

There are positive possibilities, but few that offer much in the way of confidence.

Richt and his staff need to hit the jackpot over the next two months on the recruiting trail and hope they find some home-run hitters who can contribute immediately. Some of those players reside within this state’s borders, but there is still the always-tricky matter of convincing them to sign on the dotted line.

And what about Friday’s bowl game would offer those players the confidence that Athens is an attractive destination, aside from the possibility for immediate playing time?

Before we venture too far down the path toward a complete overreaction, remember that Friday’s game offered little in the way of motivation for the Bulldogs – certainly far less than it did for a UCF program seeking its first-ever bowl victory.

But watching the Bulldogs sleepwalk though another game in a season that had already veered so miserably off the tracks is not the best way to enter the offseason. Yet again, they lacked fire, which has been a regular issue in many of Georgia’s worst moments over the last couple of disappointing years.

Recovering that elusive quality might be the most important factor as the Bulldogs move forward toward 2011. Because every ensuing time their fans witness them playing like they don’t want to be there, Richt’s program loses a bit more goodwill than it enjoyed the game before.

RUSHING OFFENSE

D The Knights were ranked 10th in the nation against the run at 110 yards per game and actually held Georgia nearly 30 yards below that number. The Bulldogs rushed for a paltry 82 yards and averaged 2.6 yards per carry in an outing that tied for Georgia’s second-fewest rushing yards in a game this year. Without Caleb King, who was suspended for the game, Washaun Ealey led the Bulldogs with 16 carries for 60 yards and Georgia.

PASSING OFFENSE

D The Bulldogs made a few big plays, particularly a couple of fourth-down grabs on the last drive that helped keep the chains moving, but they couldn’t sustain anything. Quarterback Aaron Murray had one of his least effective outings of the season, throwing two INTs and fumbling once. Murray completed 21 of 38 passes for 198 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown or lead a touchdown drive as the Bulldogs suffered an embarrassing defeat.

RUSHING DEFENSE

C Central Florida did much of its damage on the ground as Latavius Murray found seams in Georgia’s run defense and rushed 18 times for 104 yards and the game-winning 10-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ run defense was reasonably effective, however, allowing just 124 yards on the ground and an average of 4.1 yards per carry.

PASSING DEFENSE

B Central Florida’s Jeff Godfrey came in as the most efficient freshman passer in the country, but he didn’t do much against Georgia’s pass defense. Hobbled by an ankle injury, Godfrey was 16-for-29 for 116 yards and two INTs and rushed 10 times for 20 yards. The Knights’ typically potent third-down offense managed to convert only 3 of 10 opportunities and they accumulated fewer first downs and total yards than their Georgia counterparts. The Bulldogs’ offense was just a bit worse, however.

SPECIAL TEAMS

C Blair Walsh kicked field goals of 20 and 41 yards for the Bulldogs, who were also aided by a UCF penalty that nullified an opening kickoff return touchdown. Georgia’s star return man, Brandon Boykin, averaged less than 13 yards per kickoff return on three attempts. Drew Butler shanked one punt around midfield, but finished with a respectable 42.6-yard average and a long of 50. It was overall an average day for Georgia’s special teams units which are often better than that.

COACHING

F The Bulldogs were clearly not ready to play Friday in Memphis. They gave a largely lackluster effort from the game’s first play and the 10-6 outcome – sealing Georgia’s first losing season since 1996 – came as little surprise given the general sense of urgency that emanated off the Georgia sideline. The Bulldogs actually started the game strong on offense, driving 15 plays and 95 yards on their first possession. But rather than be aggressive on fourth-and-1 at Central Florida’s 3, Georgia’s coaches elected to kick a chip-shot field goal. They never received another prime opportunity to seize control of the game. The Bulldogs instead allowed a lesser opponent to hang around and eventually pull off an upset to cap Georgia’s most disappointing season under Mark Richt.

Game Summary: Georgia 55, Louisiana-Lafayette 7

PLAYERS OF THE GAME
AARON MURRAY

The redshirt freshman quarterback had a couple of rocky moments, but it was an overall solid debut. Murray was 17-for-26 for 160 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while rushing four times for 42 yards and a 16-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half, putting the Bulldogs up 31-7 at halftime.

BRANDEN SMITH

Smith became the first Georgia player since Champ Bailey in 1998 to start on offense, defense and special teams. He caught a 3-yard pass on Georgia’s first play of the season, rushed once for 17 yards, returned three punts for 51 yards — including a long of 31 yards — and made one tackle and a pass breakup.

AKEEM DENT

The senior linebacker still hasn’t fully recovered from an offseason toe injury, but he was a rock in the middle of the Bulldogs’ impressive defense. Dent tied with Bacarri Rambo for the team lead in tackles with six. He also recorded a sack for a loss of 9 yards and was credited by Mark Richt as the key leader on a defense that allowed 128 yards of offense and created three turnovers.

Turning point

After a 20-yard touchdown run by Caleb King for Georgia’s first score of the season, Bulldogs cornerback Brandon Boykin intercepted a Chris Masson pass at the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 28-yard line. Georgia would add a touchdown and a field goal on its next two drives.

Play of the game

With time running out in the first half, quarterback Aaron Murray was forced out of the pocket on

second-and-10 from the Louisiana-Lafayette 16-yard line. Scrambling to the right, Murray cut up field and made a last-second lunge for the end zone, stretching the ball over the line as time expired. After review, the touchdown run was confirmed and Georgia took a 31-7 lead into halftime.

GRADES

Rushing offense

B The final numbers looked good — 184 yards — especially when you consider that Washaun Ealey spent the entire game on the sideline. Georgia’s line was more or less intact, and it did not dominate like it could have. Carlton Thomas set career highs with 13 carries for 61 yards to lead the team. Starter Caleb King had 10 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Just seven rushing first downs, especially when Georgia spent most of the second half trying to burn clock, is a bit thin.

Passing offense

B Georgia sent a freshman quarterback onto the field without last year’s returning starters (A.J. Green, Tavarres King) at receiver. Aaron Murray ran for 42 yards and completed 17 of 26 for 160 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. His second-quarter interception was a bit of bad fortune after the ball bounced off Kris Durham’s hands. But Lady Luck gave back when the Ragin’ Cajuns a dropped interception in the end zone. Other than the one botch, Durham looked sharp with five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Murray played well overall, but not as efficiently as you would like against a Sun Belt team.

Rushing defense

A+ When the game was still competitive in the first half, Louisiana-Lafayette managed minus-4 yards on the ground. It didn’t get much better in the second half for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Georgia allowed five first downs, including one on the ground. Louisiana-Lafayette finished with a net of 14 yards and a 0.5 per carry average. Georgia had three sacks for minus-18 yards to pad the total. The blowout score also helped hold down the

numbers, but that doesn’t take away from Georgia’s impressive opening.

Passing defense

A Giving up a 60-yard

touchdown pass on a busted coverage was the only blemish for Georgia’s defense. Other than that one play, the pass defense was about as stout as the rush defense. Louisiana-Lafayette completed 8 of 24 passes for 114 yards with one touchdown. The Bulldogs picked up a quarter of last season’s turnover total in one game as Brandon Boykin, Sanders Commings and Jakar Hamilton each had interceptions. Hamilton returned his 17 yards for a touchdown. Justin Houston, Akeem Dent and Akeem Hebron each had sacks as the pass rush looked much improved over last season.

Special Teams

B+ Blair Walsh was 2-for-2 in field goals as he hit 52-yarder and a 48-yarder. Drew Butler had a 46.7-yard average per punt with three inside the 20 and two touchbacks. But Georgia gave up a 46-yard return on the opening kickoff. The Bulldogs also gave Louisiana-Lafayette a free first down by running into the punter.

Coaching

B+ Georgia did exactly what it needed to do in a home opener against a Sun Belt team, give the opposition a sound thrashing. It wasn’t as easy as it could have been with major offensive contributors A.J. Green, Tavarres King and Washaun Ealey out for a variety of reasons. Mark Richt’s hiring of Todd Grantham looked good as the defense dominated the day. The choice of Aaron Murray looked sound as well as the redshirt freshman threw three touchdowns and ran for another. The results looked good, but a bigger test will come next week at South Carolina.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, September 05, 2010
Arkansas 31 - Georgia 24

The Bulldogs are off to an 0-2 start in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 1993, making their first goal every season – to win the SEC East and get to Atlanta – already appear out of reach.

Only twice has an SEC team started 0-2 in conference play and reached the league’s title game: LSU in 2001 when it won the league championship under Nick Saban and Arkansas in 2002.

No SEC East team has managed to climb out of an 0-2 hole and reach the title game.

Georgia would seem hard-pressed to do it considering the Bulldogs have lost six of their last eight SEC games dating back to last season.

The Bulldogs, coming off a 31-24 loss to Arkansas, will just take one conference win for now.

Their next chance comes Saturday at Mississippi State in a game matching the only 0-2 teams in the SEC.

“My guess is these guys will get right back on the horse and start riding and they’ll get right back to work,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday evening. “I think we all want to have a positive result in the win column, so I think everybody’s going to fight for that.”

The Bulldogs haven’t lost to Mississippi State since 1974 (winning nine in a row), but they hadn’t lost to Arkansas since 1993 either.

“They’re desperate for a victory and so are we,” Richt said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a whale of a game.”

Georgia (1-2, 0-2 SEC) has lost to Arkansas and South Carolina, teams ranked this week Nos. 10 and 12, respectively, in the nation.

“It’s not like we’ve played two soft teams,” Richt said.

Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2) has fallen the past two weeks to LSU and Auburn, ranked 15th and 17th. LSU won 29-7 Saturday. Auburn won 17-14 on Sept. 9

“That’s really called playing in the Southeastern Conference,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “We’ve played two teams that are ranked very high the last two weeks and Georgia … I know a lot of people picked to win the SEC East.

“I know there’s a lot of conferences around the country where people have one or two big games that they’ve got to win during their seasons or say, ‘Hey, this is the team’s big game of the year.’ In the SEC, that’s every single week that is your big game of the year.”

Richt accentuated the positive Sunday for a team with a redshirt freshman quarterback and a new defensive scheme instead of dwelling on the negative.

“I had a sense after the game that this team really was improving and making strides and after watching the film we’re really moving in the right direction, which is a good thing,” he said.

Georgia’s margin for error now is all but gone.

Only four times since divisional play began in 1992 has an Eastern Division team made it to the SEC title game with two losses. Georgia got there in 2003 and 2005, Tennessee in 2007 and Florida in 1992.

“Obviously it’s a big game for both of us,” Mullen said. “Not the start that either team envisioned, but obviously a big game that could turn either team’s season around.”

Notes: Georgia’s nine sacks allowed this season are tied for the most surrendered in the SEC with Tennessee and South Carolina. … Richt did not have an update from director of sports medicine Ron Courson, but he said that the players who missed Saturday’s game – Caleb King, Branden Smith, Shaun Chapas, Chris Davis, Marcus Dowtin and Justin Anderson – “would all be in the mix of possibly being able to play” against Mississippi State. Backup center Chris Burnette is out with a knee injury. Backup offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant had some sort of leg injury, but it’s not believed to be serious. “We feel like Trinton’s moving forward and he needs to get more opportunity and he’s just getting better as we go,” Richt said. “Definitely a little rust on him though.” … Mullen said that that Chris Relf will start again at quarterback after getting “dinged up” in the third quarter of a 29-7 loss at LSU on Saturday night. Redshirt freshman Tyler Russell has also been getting time at quarterback. “Nothing’s changed for us,” Mullen said. “Chris is our starter, but we’ll play both like we’ve been doing all year.” … Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was named the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week after completing 21 of 33 passes for 380 yards with three touchdowns against Georgia.

The Bulldogs are off to an 0-2 start in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 1993, making their first goal every season – to win the SEC East and get to Atlanta – already appear out of reach.

Only twice has an SEC team started 0-2 in conference play and reached the league’s title game: LSU in 2001 when it won the league championship under Nick Saban and Arkansas in 2002.

No SEC East team has managed to climb out of an 0-2 hole and reach the title game.

Georgia would seem hard-pressed to do it considering the Bulldogs have lost six of their last eight SEC games dating back to last season.

The Bulldogs, coming off a 31-24 loss to Arkansas, will just take one conference win for now.

Their next chance comes Saturday at Mississippi State in a game matching the only 0-2 teams in the SEC.

“My guess is these guys will get right back on the horse and start riding and they’ll get right back to work,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday evening. “I think we all want to have a positive result in the win column, so I think everybody’s going to fight for that.”

The Bulldogs haven’t lost to Mississippi State since 1974 (winning nine in a row), but they hadn’t lost to Arkansas since 1993 either.

“They’re desperate for a victory and so are we,” Richt said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a whale of a game.”

Georgia (1-2, 0-2 SEC) has lost to Arkansas and South Carolina, teams ranked this week Nos. 10 and 12, respectively, in the nation.

“It’s not like we’ve played two soft teams,” Richt said.

Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2) has fallen the past two weeks to LSU and Auburn, ranked 15th and 17th. LSU won 29-7 Saturday. Auburn won 17-14 on Sept. 9

“That’s really called playing in the Southeastern Conference,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “We’ve played two teams that are ranked very high the last two weeks and Georgia … I know a lot of people picked to win the SEC East.

“I know there’s a lot of conferences around the country where people have one or two big games that they’ve got to win during their seasons or say, ‘Hey, this is the team’s big game of the year.’ In the SEC, that’s every single week that is your big game of the year.”

Richt accentuated the positive Sunday for a team with a redshirt freshman quarterback and a new defensive scheme instead of dwelling on the negative.

“I had a sense after the game that this team really was improving and making strides and after watching the film we’re really moving in the right direction, which is a good thing,” he said.

Georgia’s margin for error now is all but gone.

Only four times since divisional play began in 1992 has an Eastern Division team made it to the SEC title game with two losses. Georgia got there in 2003 and 2005, Tennessee in 2007 and Florida in 1992.

“Obviously it’s a big game for both of us,” Mullen said. “Not the start that either team envisioned, but obviously a big game that could turn either team’s season around.”

Notes: Georgia’s nine sacks allowed this season are tied for the most surrendered in the SEC with Tennessee and South Carolina. … Richt did not have an update from director of sports medicine Ron Courson, but he said that the players who missed Saturday’s game – Caleb King, Branden Smith, Shaun Chapas, Chris Davis, Marcus Dowtin and Justin Anderson – “would all be in the mix of possibly being able to play” against Mississippi State. Backup center Chris Burnette is out with a knee injury. Backup offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant had some sort of leg injury, but it’s not believed to be serious. “We feel like Trinton’s moving forward and he needs to get more opportunity and he’s just getting better as we go,” Richt said. “Definitely a little rust on him though.” … Mullen said that that Chris Relf will start again at quarterback after getting “dinged up” in the third quarter of a 29-7 loss at LSU on Saturday night. Redshirt freshman Tyler Russell has also been getting time at quarterback. “Nothing’s changed for us,” Mullen said. “Chris is our starter, but we’ll play both like we’ve been doing all year.” … Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was named the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week after completing 21 of 33 passes for 380 yards with three touchdowns against Georgia..

Game Summary: Georgia 6, South Carolina 17

Georgia’s Christian Robinson, left, celebrates with teammate Akeem Dent after recovering a fumble during the third quarter Saturday.
 
JUSTIN HOUSTON

Georgia’s defense had its struggles, but Houston had his best statistical game as a Bulldog. He set new career highs with 10 tackles and three sacks and made Georgia’s play of the game when he blindsided Gamecocks

quarterback Stephen Garcia, creating a fumble that Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson recovered to halt a drive at the Bulldogs’ 28-yard line.

AARON MURRAY

The freshman quarterback gave a solid performance in his first career road game. Murray completed 14 of 21 passes for 192 yards, with no interceptions or touchdowns. Murray didn’t get his offense into the end zone, but that wasn’t entirely his fault, as Orson Charles juggled a catch that should have created a red-zone first down and Washaun Ealey fumbled away another potential score on the goal line.

CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

Much of the talk today will be about Georgia’s poor tackling, but Robinson and his defensive mates recovered reasonably well after a poor start. Making a start against his father’s alma mater, Robinson registered five tackles, a sack and recovered Garcia’s fumble to keep his team in the game. Georgia’s defense recovered only two fumbles all of last season.

Turning point

With Georgia threatening inside South Carolina’s red zone for the first time in the second half late in the third quarter, Washaun Ealey took a handoff and rushed inside the Gamecocks’ 5-yard line only to fumble the ball. South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore recovered the ball at the 1-yard line and returned it to the 14. Georgia would not get into South Carolina territory again until its final possession.

Play of the game

South Carolina looked poised to extend its eight-point lead in the third quarter after a 40-yard pass from Stephen Garcia to Alshon Jeffrey to the Bulldogs’ 28-yard line. Two plays later, Georgia’s Justin Houston forced a fumble during a sack of Garcia and the ball was recovered by Christian Robinson. Houston finished the game with three sacks and 10 tackles.

GRADES

Rushing offense

D The running game sputtered last week, but this week it spit rods straight through the engine block. Washaun Ealey returned and gained 75 yards, but Caleb King sat with a sprained ankle. Georgia managed just 61 yards, two first downs and scored no touchdowns, which are woefully deficient numbers for an offense whose strength was supposed to be a veteran line. Ealey’s fumble at the South Carolina 4-yard line cost Georgia its best chance to tie the game in the second half. Carlton Thomas was the only other running back to get a carry and he just had one for 1 yard.

Passing offense

C A.J. Green didn’t play for the second straight game and won’t be back for another two, so the Bulldogs had better get used to playing without him. Quarterback Aaron Murray, a redshirt freshman, was an efficient 14-for-21 for 192 yards without Georgia’s top target. Kris Durham had three catches for 76 yards, including a 55-yarder in the second half. But the lack of touchdowns and three sacks takes some of the shine off of the production.   

Rushing defense

D Freshman Marcus Lattimore sliced and diced his way through Georgia with alarming ease in the first half as he ran 21 times for 103 yards. His pace fell off in the second half, but he still finished with 182 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. South Carolina rolled up 14 first downs on the ground and 189 yards. The 3.6-yard average wasn’t as high as it seemed, but five sacks cut into the total.

Passing defense

C+ Georgia’s biggest play of the game came courtesy of its pass defense as Justin Houston and Christian Robinson teamed for a sack and a forced fumble in the third quarter. Justin Houston had 10 tackles, including three sacks. Akeem Dent and Robinson each had one sack. Stephen Garcia, who torched the Bulldogs for 313 passing yards last season, only hit for 165 this year. But he completed 12 of his 17 with no interceptions. His longest completion went for 40 yards, but it was erased by a turnover. Since Lattimore found so much space to run, South Carolina didn’t need to throw too much and didn’t.

Special Teams

B Blair Walsh hit both his field-goal attempts to account for all of the Bulldogs’ points. Drew Butler punted for a 42.8-yard average, but had 32-yarder in the mix. South Carolina did not hurt the Bulldogs with returns except for a 34-yarder on the game’s opening kickoff that benefited from an illegal block.

Coaching

C- Georgia used all of its second-half timeouts in the third quarter, which would have come in handy late in the game. The Bulldogs couldn’t execute. Georgia just had one turnover, but it was a big one by Washaun Ealey at the South Carolina 4-yard line. However, the most telling stat might have been Georgia converting 3 of 11 (27 percent) third-down opportunities on offense and allowing 9 of 14 (64 percent) on defense. In the end, South Carolina had better players and executed its plays better. No A.J. Green made much more of a difference this week than last week. 

Georgia Versus Mississippi State

D- For much of the game, Georgia's leading rusher was quarterback Aaron Murray, who finished the game with 32 yards on seven carries. No Georgia running back finished the game with more than 40 yards rushing. Washaun Ealey led the team with 36 yards on 10 carries. Caleb King made his return and contributed just 23 yards on nine carries. Georgia rushed for just 113 yards as a team and the team's biggest rush was for 15 yards.

C+ Aaron Murray's numbers don't look too bad, completing 18 of 31 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. But many of those numbers came after the game was out of reach and Georgia finished a touchdown drive for pride on a 40-yard pass from Murray to Tavarres King. Murray had at least two passes that should have been picked off. Kris Durham had a respectable day receiving, catching four passes for 64 yards, before leaving the game because of injury.

B- Mississippi State did most of its damage with its quarterback, Chris Relf, who rushed for a game-high 97 yards on 21 carries. Georgia held Mississippi State to 179 yards rushing, but struggled to produce a stop on the ground when needed. Mississippi State back Vick Ballard rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs of Starkville averaged 4.1 yards per carry against Georgia.

C- Mississippi State's passing game was mostly a complement to its running game, but it was effective enough to put the nail in Georgia's coffin. Quarterback Chris Relf completed 8 of 13 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. His longest pass of the game, a 33-yard touchdown strike to Arceto Clark late in the fourth quarter, gave Mississippi State a 17-6 lead. Georgia did intercept one pass, but it was on a halfback throw from LaDarius Perkins to Relf. The Mississippi State quarterback averaged 16.8 yards per completion.

B- While everything else was struggling, Georgia's kicking game was still working. Kicker Blair Walsh remained perfect for the season, hitting on two field goals (25 and 35 yards) in the second quarter. Drew Butler continued to put up sub-par numbers, punting three times for an average of 42.7 yards, pinning Mississippi State inside its own 20 once. Georgia did not receive much of a spark from its return game. Brandon Boykin returned three kicks for an average of 23.7 yards. Georgia did not have to worry about stopping Mississippi State's return game as the Bulldogs of Starkville had just one punt return and one kickoff return.

D If Georgia looked average for most of its loss to Arkansas last week, it looked even worse for pretty much all of Saturday's defeat. There did not appear to be any sense of urgency with Georgia's play, despite the implications of another loss in the SEC. Georgia also doubled Mississippi State's penalties (nine to four) and outgained Mississippi State 387-314. The Bulldogs of Athens did not find the end zone until the end of the fourth quarter.

Georgia 43 - Vanderbilt 0

October 16, 2010.  Grade A ~  Georgia finally showed more than just a pulse. The Bulldogs steamrolled Vanderbilt for 232 yards and an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Washaun Ealey had his best game of the season when the Bulldogs needed it most as he ran for 123 yards and a touchdown. Carlton Thomas added 40 yards and two touchdowns for a career game. Aaron Murray had 36 yards and for the first time in weeks, he wasn’t Georgia’s most effective runner. Georgia’s offensive line routinely opened holes and controlled the line of scrimmage almost from the beginning.

Grade B+ ~  Aaron Murray threw for an efficient 287 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward poked the ball away from A.J. Green a couple of times in the first half as the Commodores rotated their defense toward the All-American candidate. But Kris Durham caught four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Tavarres King added four catches for 70 yards and tight end Aron White had three catches for 50 yards. Despite all the attention, Green had three catches, 64 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldogs didn’t give up any sacks, but drops and a couple of missed receivers keep give Mike Bobo some talking points in the meeting room.

Grade A ~  Much like last week against Tennessee, an early lead knocked much of the enthusiasm out of Vanderbilt, not that the Commodores showed that much in the first place. Georgia allowed 58 yards and three first downs. Vanderbilt managed just 2.1 yards an attempt and leading rusher Warren Norman had 23 yards. Akeem Dent had eight sacks. Vanderbilt only had 140 yards, eight first downs and converted 1 of 11 third downs.

Grade A ~  As overmatched as Vanderbilt’s running game looked, the passing might have appeared worse. Quarterback Larry Smith completed 5 of 14 for 70 yards and one interception. Vanderbilt also allowed one sack and never penetrated past Georgia’s 37-yard line. Georgia didn’t necessarily apply dominating pressure, but it hurried Smith into some ill-advised throws, including a prayer that Sanders Commings picked off. Georgia also benefited from some dropped passes by Vanderbilt receivers. But on the whole, Georgia overmatched Vanderbilt on almost every play.

Grade B ~  Blair Walsh’s missed 31-yard field goal keeps this from going higher. But he hit his 115th consecutive PAT, a Georgia record, to help make up the difference. Walsh’s kickoffs were deep and the coverage didn’t give up any big returns. Drew Butler averaged 49 yards and downed three inside the 20-yard line. The Georgia punt returns and kickoff returns didn’t produce many yards, but they didn’t get many chances either.

Grade B ~  If you win 43-0, there’s not much to complain about. When Vanderbilt overplayed Green, Mike Bobo found alternate targets. Washaun Ealey looked more inspired than he has all season. The defense got its first shutout since Todd Grantham installed the 3-4. Georgia stayed at least a step ahead of Vanderbilt the whole game and picked up some much-needed momentum after a disastrous four-game losing streak

The Beatdown and Big Bad Bruce

Big Bad Bruce was witness to a big, bad beatdown of homecoming opponent Vanderbilt.

Well, except when the new English bulldog mascot might have been sleeping in his doghouse in Sanford Stadium.

Yes, Georgia’s 43-0 shellacking of the Commodores – its first shutout of a Southeastern Conference opponent since 18-0 over South Carolina in 2006 – turned into a snoozer for those who might have tuned in on TV.

It qualified as compelling stuff for the Bulldogs and their fans who endured a four-game losing streak until last weekend.

When it was over, receiver Kris Durham joined teammates Aron White and Ben Jones to soak up the victory with Uga VIII.

"I had to go give him some nice little love, a little petting," said Durham, who had four catches for a career-high 112 yards and a touchdown. "He got us the win. He’s good luck so far. He needs to keep it going."

Georgia (3-4, 2-3) wants to keep what it has going by extending its winning streak to three games Saturday at Kentucky.

The Bulldogs beat Tennessee and Vanderbilt the past two weeks by a combined 84-14.

"We’ve bounced back and had two great wins," said redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 15 of 24 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. "We’ve still got five games left to go. There’s plenty of opportunities to turn the season around."

Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-2) was shut out for the first time since losing to Tennessee 48-0 in 2003 on a day it never even got in the Bulldogs’ red zone.

"A shutout in any level of football is not easy to do," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "…You don’t get a shutout if you don’t play really well all the way around as a football team."

The closest penetration by Vanderbilt was Georgia’ 35-yard line on its final drive.

"I do think that we have improved our mental and physical toughness," Georgia first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "I do think it’s an attitude. We talk about finishing the game. I thought the shutout was important even though we had some other guys in there. That’s a statement."

Commodores first-year Robbie Caldwell said his team got whipped in every phase.

Asked if he was embarrassed, he said: "Don’t you get embarrassed when you get shut out – whether it’s horse shoes, ping pong or whatever?"

With Caleb King suspended for two games, Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas had big days.

Ealey rushed for a season-high 123 yards and a touchdown and did not fumble on any of his 17 carries after being benched two weeks ago because of fumbles.

"I feel like I won the trust a little bit today, but I still got to keep working and just let them keep trusting me and just show them that I can be that back," Ealey said.

Thomas scored his first two touchdowns as a Bulldog, rushing for 40 yards on four carries.

Georgia averaged 136.8 rushing yards in its first six games, but rushed for a season-high 232.

The Bulldogs outgained Vanderbilt in total yards 547-140.

"It can’t get any worse than today," Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith said.

Well, actually, it could have.

There was not one but two defensive touchdowns wiped out by replay reversals in the first quarter.

Linebacker Christian Robinson’s fumble return for touchdown became an incomplete pass when it was ruled that Vanderbilt tight end Mason Johnston did not have possession.

Linebacker Akeem Dent’s fumble recovery after a botched snap was ruled out of the end zone for a safety.

Georgia still led 22-0 at halftime and scored five touchdowns, including on a 48-yard catch by A.J. Green.

Blair Walsh took advantage to set the school record for consecutive extra points with 115.

Aaron Murray was pulled for Hutson Mason with 1:47 left in the third quarter.

Josh Murray, Aaron’s older brother, was among those who saw playing time when the game got out of hand. He played for the first time as a Bulldog in the fourth quarter on the punt return team.

"I was pumped," Aaron Murray said.

Georgia’s largest win against an SEC opponent since a 62-17 win at Kentucky in 2004 came after a shaky start.

Georgia burned a timeout after the first defensive snap when it had only 10 men on the field and after its second offensive snap because a play was called without the correct personnel grouping on the field.

Its third and final timeout of the first half came with 9:44 left in the first quarter on a fourth-and-1 at the Vanderbilt 16, when Richt decided to go for it instead of kicking a field goal.

Georgia more than smoothed things out from there, making it a good day for the Bulldogs and the new bulldog.

"Uga VIII," Richt said, "is a beautiful, undefeated, unscored-upon dog."

Georgia 44 - Kentucky 31

A - Washaun Ealey put the early-season miscues behind him with maybe his best game as a Bulldog. He scored a career-high five touchdowns and ran for 157 yards. Georgia controlled the line of scrimmage and pushed Kentucky’s defense all over the field. On the down side, Georgia’s other runners – Carlton Thomas, Aaron Murray and Shaun Chapas – combined for 20 yards and a 2.0 average.

B -  When Ealey averages 5.6 yards a carry, you don’t have to take to the air much and Georgia didn’t. Aaron Murray only threw 12 times, but he connected on nine of them (75 percent) for 113 yards, no touchdowns and most importantly, no interceptions. A.J. Green got the bulk of the work with six catches for 86 yards. Georgia didn’t give up any sacks and moved the ball effectively to complement Ealey.

B+ - Kentucky’s leading rusher Derrick Locke missed the game because of injury, which made the Wildcats a little reluctant to run. The quick deficit almost took them completely out of the mood. Akeem Dent had a career-high 15 tackles as Georgia allowed 68 yards, four first downs and a 2.2-yard average. The Bulldogs stuffed a fourth-and-1 for no gain in the first half. Raymond Sanders picked up 79 yards, but 29 yards in sacks helped hold the team total down.

C - Four turnovers that turned into 14 points and 21/2 sacks by Justin Houston kept this from being a disaster. Houston also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in one of his best games of the season. Sanders Commings had an interception and a fumble recovery. But Kentucky passed for 421 yards, 22 first downs and 31 points and most of that damage came through the air. Mike Hartline lit up Georgia by completing 27 of 43 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

A- -  Brandon Boykin’s 100-yard kickoff return for a score was the highlight and gave Georgia control of the early momentum. Drew Butler averaged 50 yards and put two punts inside the 20-yard line. But Blair Walsh missed his first PAT after making the first 118 of his career. Walsh made a 30-yard field goal, but also missed from 47 yards in the first half. The kickoff and punt coverage against Randall Cobb was solid.

B- - Kentucky has a habit of poor starts and Georgia took advantage with 28 first-half points. The touchdown drive to start the third quarter was decisive considering the up-and-down nature of the rest of the second half. The running game worked early and Mike Bobo stayed with it. The defense forced big plays but also gave up almost as many so Todd Grantham has some work to do. The end result was Georgia’s third straight win and its first on the road this season.

Ealey’s 5 TDs set school record, bring Dogs back to .500

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Georgia knocked around Tennessee and Vanderbilt at home.

Ed Reinke/AP Georgia running back Washaun Ealey scores one of his school-record five touchdowns Saturday. Ealey had 28 carries for 157 yards in the 44-31 victory.

It carried that momentum on the road Saturday night and dispatched Kentucky, 44-31, behind a school-record five rushing touchdowns from tailback Washaun Ealey in Commonwealth Stadium.

Don’t look now, but Georgia has won three straight SEC games for the first time since October 2008, picking itself up after starting the season 1-4 to even its record at .500.

Standing in its path next Saturday in Jacksonville is Florida, which has lost three straight regular-season games for first time since 1988.

"I’m not really too tired," Ealey said after toting the ball a career-high 28 times for a season-high 157 yards. "I feel like I left it all on the field. I feel like I played up to my potential."

Georgia has reason to feel like it is playing closer to its potential after the Bulldogs scored 40 or more points in three straight games for the first time since doing it against Florida, Troy and Auburn in 2007.

Ealey had been benched after costly fumbles in road losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State earlier this season, but matched his career rushing touchdowns he entered with on one night.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound sophomore found the end zone time and again, all on short runs.

He rushed for touchdowns of 3, 2, 2, 2 and 1 yards, breaking the record of four rushing touchdowns held by Robert Edwards set against South Carolina in 1995.

"He’s been running pretty good all year, the ball’s (just) been squirting out," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "The last two games I don’t think the ball came out at all. That’s good. He needs to do that. That’s part of the job description to hang on to the football, but he also ran very hard, he ran downhill. He was excited about playing the game. …Scoring five TDs and setting the school record for rushing touchdowns is pretty special. He earned it."

Ealey might have had another touchdown but left the game late after he said he "tweaked" his right knee.

"When you have a running game going like we did tonight, I’m more than happy to hand the ball off and let Washaun get five touchdowns," said quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 9 of 12 passes 113 yards.

With Caleb King serving the second game of a two-game suspension, Ealey was the workhorse back on a night Georgia ran the ball on 39 of its 51 offensive plays.

Georgia (4-4, 3-3 SEC) is in sole possession of second place in the SEC East behind South Carolina (5-2, 3-2). Florida (4-3, 2-3) had an open date.

Ealey and Edwards are now tied for the school record for most touchdowns in a game with five. Edwards had four rushing and one receiving in 1995 against South Carolina in a 42-23 Georgia win.

The Bulldogs could hand the ball to Ealey near the goal line thanks to terrific field position.

Georgia jumped to a 28-3 lead with 6:47 left in the second quarter lead after it started four of its first five offensive drives inside the Kentucky 40-yard line. Georgia led 34-10 in the third before Kentucky scored 21 points in the last 15-plus minutes

Quarterback Mike Hartline (27 of 43, 353 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) threw three second half touchdowns, but Georgia had built too much of a cushion.

Georgia won for the first time in four road games this season.

The Bulldogs took advantage of a bunch of short fields and a 100-yard Brandon Boykin kickoff return for a touchdown to build their 18-point halftime lead.

"We’ve caught a good little bit of momentum," Richt said. "I was really proud of how we came out ready to play again."

Georgia needed only 90 yards of total offense to score its first four touchdowns.

"It makes our job easier when we only have to go 30 or 40 yards or we don’t even have to go on the field with a kickoff return," Murray said.

Georgia scored its first three touchdowns off a fumble, Boykin’s kickoff return and a fourth-and-1 try by Kentucky that came up short in Georgia territory.

Kentucky (4-4, 1-4) entered the game with the fewest turnovers committed in the SEC with six, but had four on the night including three fumbles.

"To be a great defense you’ve got to cause turnovers," said outside linebacker Justin Houston, who had 2 1/2 sacks, forced one fumble and recovered another. "That’s something we’ve got to keep up."

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Chas Henry, a punter thrust into kicking duties, drilled a 37-yard field goal in overtime to lift Florida to a 34-31 victory over rival Georgia on Saturday.

Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Sanders Commings (19) and linebacker Justin Houston (42) dive for a fumble in the second quarter as the Florida Gators lead the Georgia Bulldogs 21-7 at halftime at Everbank Field on Saturday, October 30, 2010 in Jacksonville, Fl.

Aaron Murray’s third interception — his fourth turnover of the game — nearly ended it four plays earlier. Jelani Jenkins tipped Murray’s pass over the middle. Will Hill intercepted it and nearly returned it for the winning score. Hill stepped out at the 4.

The Gators (5-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) did little with their turn and settled for Henry’s winner. It was a redeeming moment for Henry, who has been filling in for injured kicker Caleb Sturgis and missed three field goals in close losses to LSU and Mississippi State.

Florida snapped a three-game losing streak and extended their dominance in the series. Georgia (4-5, 3-4) has lost 18 of the last 21 meetings.

Is the Bulldogs’ 34-31 overtime loss to Florida Saturday more of a kick in the gut than 41-17 in 2009 or 49-10 in 2008?

I asked tailback Washaun Ealey Saturday night before the Bulldogs got ready to head back to Athens with yet another loss to Florida–the 18th in the last 21 years–if losing to the Gators in overtime felt the same as a blowout loss.

“Basically, you walk out of here feeling the same as last year,” Ealey said. “A loss is a loss no matter the point margin. We probably feel the same way. Losing by three or losing by a thousand, it doesn’t matter. A loss is a loss. It gives you the same result.”

Georgia liked its chances on the first play of overtime when Kris Durham drew single coverage against Florida safety Ahmad Black.

In overtime, the ball is placed on the 25-yard line.

“Basically in that area, we’re not thinking much red zone calls until we get to around the 15-yard line,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We’re pretty much calling our normal down calls.”

Georgia was getting man coverage with receiver A.J. Green against a cornerback and Durham against Black.

“When AJ went in motion and the corner went with him, we had Durham matched up with a safety,” Richt said. “We thought that was a good matchup and we thought we’d take a shot there. I think if the ball was placed a little bit better, I think Durham would have had a better shot at making a play on it.”

Caleb King gained 1 yard on second down on a run and then came the Aaron Murray pass intended for Green over the middle that was tipped and returned 89 yards by Will Hill before he was knocked out of bounds at the Georgia 4.

“On third down you are trying to get in position to score a touchdown because you know a field goal might not be what it takes,” Richt said. “When you are in those situations you just have to play ball, and they got some pressure and the ball got tipped up in the air and got picked.”

Other notes and quotes:

–Not sure if you noticed, but Green was out attempting the field goal block on Chas Henry’s 37-yard field goal in overtime. Green got up, but did not get the block like he did in the Bulldogs’ home win against Arizona State last year.

–Speaking of Green, Florida coach Urban Meyer gave props to the job Janoris Jenkins did on Green, who was held to four catches for 42 yards. “Janoris kept him somewhat under control and that was a heck of a job,” Meyer said. “Janoris played him basically the whole day.”

–Florida’s 450 total yards of offense was well ahead of its 329 per game average. Chris Rainey returned with 84 rushing yards and a touchdown and returned one kickoff 45 yards.

“They were going with the no huddle pace and a pretty quick pace,” Richt said.

–Ealey rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries a week after he sustained a sprained MCL in his right knee in the win at Kentucky last week.

“Over the last week, it’s been really, really bothering me,” Ealey said. “I wasn’t able to practice this week as much as I wanted to. They told me it would get better every day and that’s what it did.”

–So much for that No. 1 rushing defense in the SEC. Florida rushed for 231 yards on 50 carries, a 4.6 average with four rushing touchdowns.

–Mentioned in my game story about how close the teams were not only on the scoreboard but in total yards (450-439). Also check out the first downs (Florida 23, Georgia 22) and time of possession (Florida 30:38-Georgia 29:22).

–Safety Bacarri Rambo led Georgia with a career-high 14 tackles.

–Florida senior linebacker A.J. Jones on beating Georgia: “Man, it feels great. I almost burst into tears after the game. It feels great to beat Georgia, bottom line.”

–Idaho State, the FCS (formerly I-AA) opponent coming to Sanford Stadium Saturday, played an overtime game Saturday, too. It lost to Montana State, 23-20, and is now 1-7.

 

Bulldogs blow past Bengals with eye on Newton, Tigers

The touchdowns were coming fast and furious in the second quarter of Georgia’s 55-7 rout of Idaho State on Saturday when Bulldogs players reacted like they had just pulled ahead in a tight Southeastern Conference game.

a

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green runs past Idaho State cornerback Cameron Gupton for a touchdown in the first half Saturday.
Richard Hamm

Teammates mobbed tight end Bruce Figgins in the end zone after he snagged a 6-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray.

Never mind that the Bulldogs had just gone up by 40 points against one of the worst FCS teams around, Figgins had his first touchdown since way back in the season opener in 2007.

"Regardless of how early the fans leave and how the score looks, it’s always a blessing to play," said Figgins, who redshirted last season following shoulder surgery and did not have a catch this year before Saturday. "Of course, people find the closer games more interesting, SEC play more interesting, but it’s good to see everybody play and have a lot of laughs on the sideline."

Georgia (5-5) got the get-well game it expected after the heartache of an overtime loss to Florida a week earlier.

The Bulldogs moved one win away from becoming bowl-eligible, with a monster matchup at BCS No. 2 Auburn next Saturday, a game the Bulldogs had peeked ahead to already.

Asked after the game if he already had watched some film cut-ups of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy contender, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said: "I noticed a little bit, yeah."

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt mentioned Auburn unprompted just 13 seconds into his postgame news conference.

Auburn (10-0) had its own beatdown Saturday, 62-24 over Chattanooga.

"Every man on the team, I’m sure even before the clock hit zeroes, was thinking about going to Auburn and playing this game," Richt said.

Idaho State (1-8) returned to Pocatello $525,000 richer for playing Georgia.

"It is what it is," Idaho State coach John Zamberlin said. "We played this game for revenue."

Georgia produced a bushel of milestones on a day it pummeled a team that has won just one game each of the past three seasons.

On a chilly day in Sanford Stadium, sold out for the 62nd straight game but with perhaps about 10,000 empty seats for the 12:30 p.m. start, the Bulldogs:

► Scored 30 or more points for the fifth straight game for first time in program history.

► Put up its most points in one quarter – 35 in the second quarter – since scoring 35 in the second quarter of a 59-24 win against William & Mary in 1988.

► Scored their most points in one half – 41 in the first – since scoring 49 against Northeast Louisiana in 1994 in a 70-6 win.

► Matched the biggest win in Richt’s 10 seasons, tying the 55-7 win against Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener this year.

It might have been a more competitive game if Georgia threw pads on members of the 1980 national championship team that returned to celebrate the 30th anniversary and challenged them to a game.

Idaho State actually gave Georgia a better fight in the first quarter than the Bulldogs’ two previous opponents at home.

Georgia led Tennessee 17-0 after the first quarter and Vanderbilt 12-0, but Idaho State trailed just 6-0 after a pair of Blair Walsh field goals.

Murray short-hopped some passes and completed just 5 of 11 passes for 39 yards in the first quarter with a long of 14 yards.

"We shook it off and we battled like we always do," Murray said.

A partially blocked punt and a pair of interceptions helped send the Bulldogs to a 27-0 lead with 10:33 left in the second quarter.

"I thought our defense and special teams kind of sparked our offense a little bit," Richt said.

Alec Ogletree got the punt block to give Georgia the ball in Idaho State territory, leading to a 3-yard Caleb King touchdown.

Bacarri Rambo returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown and Brandon Boykin nearly had his own pick-six, but was brought down at the 3.

Murray hit A.J. Green for touchdowns of 3 and 46 yards.

"We started off a little slow," said Green, who had six catches for 103 yards. "We just had to get it warmed up."

Murray finished 19 of 27 for 228 yards with three touchdowns and was done for the day with early in the third quarter with Georgia ahead 48-0.

By the time Vance Cuff returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 55-0, Idaho State had thrown three interceptions and only four completions.

The Bengals got on the scoreboard with a 25-yard touchdown pass with less than nine minutes to play, but Georgia’s starters had long been pulled with Auburn on the horizon.

"We’re excited, we’re ready for the challenge," Murray said. "We’ll get it cranking."

 

Auburn 49 - Georgia 31

Grading the game

Rushing offense

C  ~  Georgia seemed to make decent headway most of the night, but it did not show much patience when the game turned into a horse race. Caleb King had a 5.9-yard average and Washaun Ealey had a 7.3 average. But they achieved those averages with just 15 combined carries, so they didn’t get much work. Georgia allowed four sacks for minus-34 yards to help slant the total, but the Bulldogs didn’t run as consistently as they needed.

Passing offense

B-  ~ Aaron Murray and A.J. Green had standout days. Murray completed 15 of 28 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Green caught nine of those passes for 164 yards and two scores. Georgia tested Auburn deep often and with success. Orson Charles had a 36-yard catch and Kris Druham had a 28-yard catch. But Georgia gave up four sacks and Auburn won the game.

Rushing defense

D  ~   Cam Newton made an on-the-field statement about his Heisman Trophy credentials at the expense of the Bulldogs. Newton ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers plowed over Georgia for 315 yards, five touchdowns and 5.5 yards a carry on the ground. Auburn also struck for a 31-yard reverse by Terrell Zachery and a 48-yard reverse by Onterio McCalebb.

Passing defense

C+  ~  Bacarri Rambo’s interception and 25-yard return to set up a first-quarter touchdown was the highlight. Georgia also had two sacks against Cam Newton. Auburn’s quarterback didn’t have to pass much. But when he did, he completed 12 of 15 (80 percent) for 148 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen caught two of those touchdown passes. It remains to be seen whether Newton was as impressive with his responses to NCAA investigators.

Special Teams

C+  ~  Auburn caught Georgia flat-footed by recovering an onside kick to start the second half. Georgia never recovered the momentum and that turned out to be the biggest special teams play of the game. Brandon Boykin set the school record for career kickoff-return yardage. But he averaged 15 yards a return, including three he tried to take out of the end zone that didn’t make the 20-yard line. The specialists were solid. Blair Walsh hit all of his kicks. Drew Butler averaged 39 yards a kick but downed one inside the 20.

Coaching

B-  ~  The team started fast, which it didn’t do last week against Idaho State. The Bulldogs didn’t hurt themselves with turnovers and had a minimum of bad penalties despite the chippy nature of the game. Mike Bobo was willing to test Auburn’s secondary by throwing deep and it paid off. He also exploited Auburn’s brief experiment with one-on-one coverage of A.J. Green. But the running game was inconsistent despite good yardage when it tried. Georgia’s defense started well, but wore down quickly. Auburn converted 10 of 14 third downs and gained 463 yards. Auburn controlled most of the second half by running straight at Georgia and Todd Grantham’s defense couldn’t stop it.

 

Dogs outlast Yellow Jackets, qualify for a bowl

Nov 28 2010

In a season where Georgia couldn’t catch a break in close games, the Bulldogs got a huge one to hold off rival Georgia Tech Saturday night and gain bowl eligibility.

Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) celebrates with wide receiver A.J. Green (8) and running back Washaun Ealey (3) as they walk off the field Saturday night after Georgia beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 42-34 at Sanford Stadium. Georgia topped its state rival for the second year in a row in a mistake-filled game, getting the win it needed to be eligible for a bowl.
David Manning

Yellow Jackets’ kicker Scott Blair missed a game-tying extra point with 4:57 to play and Georgia escaped with a 42-34 victory in Sanford Stadium.

“It’s nice to finish a close one off,” said quarterback Aaron Murray of a Bulldogs team that lost three games this year by a touchdown or less.

Georgia (6-6) beat Georgia Tech for the ninth time in the last 10 meetings, and this one ensured that the Bulldogs will be bowl-eligible for the 14th straight year.

“To go to a bowl game is an accomplishment,” said senior receiver Kris Durham, who scored on a 66-yard touchdown catch for the game’s first points. “We hoped that we wouldn’t have to wait until the last game of the year to figure that out, but for us to get this is just a reward for all the hard work we put in but to get this win is more of a reward than anything just because it’s a rival. It’s something you can take with you for the rest of your life.”

Georgia Tech (6-6) lost for the fourth time in its last five games. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 411 yards and racked up 512 yards of total offense, but lost three fumbles.

Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston, a junior who leads the Southeastern Conference in sacks and is an early-round NFL draft prospect, made what might have been his final home game a memorable one.

Houston returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown to put Georgia ahead 35-21, had a sack, seven tackles and his first career interception to thwart Georgia Tech’s final try to tie the game. The Yellow Jackets had let Washuan Ealey score on a 20-yard touchdown run with 1:29 left to get the ball back and attempt to tie.

“It felt real good,” said Houston, who says he has not made an NFL decision yet. “When I scooped the ball, I just knew I had to get into the end zone. I wasn’t going to let nothing stop me or nothing get in my way to get in that end zone.”

Blair, a senior from Calhoun, picked a bad time to miss his first extra point of the season.

He pushed the point wide left after an 8-yard touchdown run from Anthony Allen. Blair had made all 36 point afters this season before the miss.

“I was like, ‘Thank goodness,’ ” said Murray, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

Georgia Tech had rallied from down 35-21 and was set to knot the game up after Allen bulled his way into the end zone.

“That one was a heartbreaker,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “We just put the ball on the ground too many times.”

Georgia had gone ahead by 14 when Houston scooped up a fumble on an option pitch left from Tevin Washington to Roddy Jones and returned it for a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the third quarter. Linebacker Akeem Dent blew up the play by meeting Jones as the ball arrived.

Georgia now will wait for its bowl destination – likely the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, the Music City in Nashville or the BBVA Compass in Birmingham.

“I don’t care what bowl we go to,” said junior receiver A.J. Green, a top-five rated NFL prospect who had eight catches for 97 yards in what most expect was his final home game. “It’s better to go to a crazy bowl – a not so fun bowl – then to go home right now and have to make that decision.”

After the missed extra point, Georgia moved the ball to the Yellow Jackets’ 23, but Murray, who threw three first-half touchdown passes, fumbled an exchange from center Ben Jones on fourth-and-1 at the 23.

Georgia Tech got the ball back, but went nowhere.

Houston sacked Washington on second down and Georgia gained possession with less than three minutes to play at the Yellow Jackets 18.

Two plays later, Ealey ran up the middle for the touchdown with less than two minutes to play.

Houston picked off a Washington pass with 35 seconds to left at the Georgia 37 to add to his big night.

Georgia Tech scored its touchdowns on drives of 71, 95, 84 and 71 yards.

Neither team was ranked entering the rivalry game for the first time since 1996 and at times it looked every bit like two mediocre teams who brought a combined 11 losses into the game – especially with the game on the line tied at 21 in the third quarter.

Caleb King fumbled inside the Georgia Tech 10.

After the Bulldogs’ defense held, Branden Smith fumbled as the ball went through his arm while trying to field a punt, giving Tech the ball at the Georgia 34.

The Yellow Jackets returned the favor when Jones fumbled on a hit by Abry Jones. Dent recovered the fumble to give the ball to Georgia at the Georgia Tech 36.

Murray hit A.J. Green for 17 yards on back-to-back plays and then the junior again got behind the Tech secondary on a skinny post for 14 yards.

Georgia coach Mark Richt ran all the way to the 12-yard line to call a timeout on fourth-and-inches at the 1.

Murray pitched to Ealey, who ran over right tackle with 51 seconds left in the third quarter to give Georgia a 28-21 lead.

Houston’s touchdown extended the lead and the Bulldogs held on for the win despite losing two fumbles.

“We never quit, we kept battling,” Richt said. “We never gave up and made the plays when we needed to. We haven’t done that in the games we’ve lost, but this time we did.”

Bulldogs make all right plays at right time

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson summed up his team’s 42-34 loss to rival Georgia with a few well-chosen words.

“That one was a heartbreaker,” he said.
How else to describe a game when a team runs 92 plays, amasses 512 yards and scores five times?
But included in those 92 plays were a host of turnovers that came early, late and unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, often. And while Georgia was taking advantage of Georgia Tech’s generosity, the Bulldogs were making enough plays themselves, as quarterback Aaron Murray rang up 271 yards and three touchdowns.
“You have to give Georgia credit,” said Johnson. “They made plays when they needed to. Georgia made some great catches in the first half. A.J. Green is hard for anyone to stop. Their kick returner (Brandon Boykin) is really good. You saw what happened when he got the ball in his hands.”
The Yellow Jackets nearly matched the Bulldogs score for score until the fourth quarter, when Anthony Allen ran in from the Georgia 8-yard line with less than five minutes remaining to pull within one point at 35-34. But kicker Scott Blair’s extra-point attempt was no good, considerably dampening the mood on the Yellow Jackets’ sideline.
“(Blair) has been great all year,” said Johnson, who added he’d considered going for a two-point conversion, but felt there was too much time remaining. “The game didn’t hang on that play. Blair has won a lot of games for us. I told him in the huddle before the kickoff that he’d win this one for us.”
Blair’s subsequent kickoff was fumbled by Boykin, but the ball was recovered by Georgia’s Marlon Brown at the Bulldogs’ 33-yard line. Georgia managed to move to the Georgia Tech 24, but Aaron Murray fumbled the snap on fourth-down-and-1, giving the Yellow Jackets — who had rambled up and down the field for most of the evening — another chance.
But Georgia Tech was unable to get out of its own way as quarterback Tevin Washington was sacked on consecutive plays and threw an incomplete pass on the next two plays, giving Georgia the ball at the Yellow Jackets’ 18-yard line with 1:38 remaining. Murray took a knee on the first play, but Washaun Ealey rushed for an 18-yard touchdown on the next play, putting the Bulldogs up by eight points.
“It was the only way we had a chance to win,” said Johnson. “It was over if they took a knee.”
Although Georgia Tech became bowl-eligible with its victory last week over Duke, there’s no question a disappointing season could have been more digestible with a victory over its in-state rival, which makes the defeat that much more difficult.
“This one hurts a little bit more because it is an in-state rivalry game,” said cornerback Mario Butler. “We made the plays we needed to. We knew coming here what their game plan was going to be and we did our best to stop them. We knew we were only a few key plays away from the win.”
34
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42
Scoring Summary
First QuarterGaTechUGa
UGaTD7:00Kris Durham 66 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)07
UGaTD2:34Orson Charles 32 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)014
Second QuarterGaTechUGa
GaTechTD12:59Tevin Washington 1 yd run (Scott Blair kick)714
GaTechTD2:05Roddy Jones 12 yd run (Scott Blair kick)1414
UGaTD0:50Bruce Figgins 3 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)1421
Third QuarterGaTechUGa
GaTechTD10:37Embry Peeples 19 yd run (Scott Blair kick)2121
UGaTD0:51Washaun Ealey 1 yd run (Blair Walsh kick)2128
UGaTD0:16Justin Houston 18 yd fumble return (Blair Walsh kick)2135
Fourth QuarterGaTechUGa
GaTechTD9:35Tevin Washington 1 yd run (Scott Blair kick)2835
GaTechTD4:57Anthony Allen 8 yd run (missed kick)3435
UGaTD1:29Washaun Ealey 20 yd run (Blair Walsh kick)34

42

Team Stats

 Georgia TechGeorgia
First downs3218
  Rushing267
  Passing510
  Penalty11
3rd Down Efficiency7-12, 58%2-7, 29%
4th down efficiency1-3, 33%1-3, 33%
Rushes-Yards77-41129-154
Passing Yards101271
Return Yards11782
Completions-Attempts-Int8-15-115-19-0
Sacks-Yards Lost0-01--10
Punts22
Punts-Average41.539.5
Fumbles Lost4-34-2
Penalties - Yards4-312-10
Time of Possession38:14

21:46

Georgia Tech Passing

PlayerCmpAttYdsTDs

Int

T. Washington81510101
Georgia Passing
PlayerCmpAttYdsTDs

Int

A. Murray151927130

Georgia Tech Rushing

PlayerCarriesYdsAvgTDs
A. Allen291665.71
T. Washington23733.22
R. Jones9637.01
E. Peeples6538.81
O. Smith8394.90
P. Lyons2178.5

0

Georgia Rushing
PlayerCarriesYdsAvgTDs
W. Ealey131189.12
C. King6427.00
S. Chapas263.00
B. Smith122.00
A. Murray4-10-2.5

0

Georgia Tech Receiving
PlayerRecYdsAvgTDs
S. Hill24723.50
R. Jones22211.00
C. Earls2168.00
O. Smith2168.0

0

Georgia Receiving
PlayerRecYdsAvgTDs
A. Green89712.10
K. Durham39030.01
O. Charles26733.51
B. Smith11414.00
B. Figgins133.0

1

Georgia Tech Interceptions
PlayerIntYards
Georgia Interceptions
PlayerIntYards
J. Houston14
Georgia Tech Punting
PlayerPuntsYardsAvg
S. Blair28341.5
Georgia Punting
PlayerPuntsYardsAvg
D. Butler27939.5
Georgia Tech Punt Returns
PlayerRetYardsAverage
J. Tarrant11919.0
Georgia Punt Returns
PlayerRetYardsAverage
B. Smith1-2-2.0
Georgia Tech Kick Returns
PlayerRetYardsAverage
B. Bostic69816.3
Georgia Kick Returns
PlayerRetYardsAverage
B. Boykin36722.3
S. Chapas177.0
M. Brown06
Georgia Tech Missed FG
PlayerLength
Georgia Missed FG
`

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