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.
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.
Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green runs past Idaho State cornerback Cameron Gupton for a touchdown in the first half Saturday.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
|UGa||TD||7:00||Kris Durham 66 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)||0||7|
|UGa||TD||2:34||Orson Charles 32 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)||0||14|
|GaTech||TD||12:59||Tevin Washington 1 yd run (Scott Blair kick)||7||14|
|GaTech||TD||2:05||Roddy Jones 12 yd run (Scott Blair kick)||14||14|
|UGa||TD||0:50||Bruce Figgins 3 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh kick)||14||21|
|GaTech||TD||10:37||Embry Peeples 19 yd run (Scott Blair kick)||21||21|
|UGa||TD||0:51||Washaun Ealey 1 yd run (Blair Walsh kick)||21||28|
|UGa||TD||0:16||Justin Houston 18 yd fumble return (Blair Walsh kick)||21||35|
|GaTech||TD||9:35||Tevin Washington 1 yd run (Scott Blair kick)||28||35|
|GaTech||TD||4:57||Anthony Allen 8 yd run (missed kick)||34||35|
|UGa||TD||1:29||Washaun Ealey 20 yd run (Blair Walsh kick)||34|
|3rd Down Efficiency||7-12, 58%||2-7, 29%|
|4th down efficiency||1-3, 33%||1-3, 33%|
|Penalties - Yards||4-31||2-10|
|Time of Possession||38:14|
Georgia Tech Passing
Georgia Tech Rushing
|Georgia Tech Receiving|
|Georgia Tech Interceptions|
|Georgia Tech Punting|
|Georgia Tech Punt Returns|
|Georgia Punt Returns|
|Georgia Tech Kick Returns|
|Georgia Tech Missed FG|
|Georgia Missed FG|