ATHENS — Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have a lot in common –- both from North Carolina, both highly recruited tailbacks, both University of Georgia freshmen.
Oh, and roommates, too.
Saturday night, they had something else in common: 100-plus yards rushing.
It was a race to see which of the two would reach triple digits first against the outmatched Florida Atlantic defense, and as it turned out they did so on back-to-back plays early in the third quarter — Marshall first on a 13-yard run, then Gurley on a 38-yard touchdown run that gave Georgia a 42-14 lead with 10:18 remaining in the quarter.
Neither played much after that as Georgia went deep into its roster for the completion of a 56-20 victory at Sanford Stadium.
Gurley finished with 111 yards and Marshall with 104, both getting 10 carries and both scoring one touchdown.
“It was probably … what they envisioned,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said afterward. “They are good friends, and they wanted to play together and wanted to complement each other with their abilities.
“I think that they’re probably thinking their plan is going pretty good so far.”
Their performances Saturday marked the first time since a 2004 victory over Vanderbilt that Georgia had two true freshmen with 100 yards rushing. In that game, Danny Ware and Thomas Brown had 127 and 122 yards rushing, respectively.
When Gurley and Marshall decided they wanted to be teammates at UGA, “we didn’t talk about going over 100 [yards in the same game],” Gurley said. “We just said it’d be cool to play together and back each other for yardage and when we get tired and things like that.”
Saturday marked Gurley’s second triple-digit rushing performance in three college games –- he had an even 100 yards in the season opener against Buffalo –- and Marshall’s first.
“We feed off of each other and push each other every day in practice, and we came out here in the game and did the same thing,” Marshall said. “We hope we can keep it going and get better.”
Both Gurley and Marshall repeatedly credited their offensive line for their performance.
“They work their tails off every day in practice,” Gurley said. “Without those guys, we wouldn’t have done anything we did tonight.”
Marshall gained 57 of his yards on a second-quarter drive during which he had five carries, including one for 28 yards and another for 17 to the 1-yard line. He regretted not scoring on the latter, saying: “I thought I was kind of free and sort of pulled up. I learned a lesson -– run through the goal line.” Aaron Murray scored on a quarterback keeper on the next play.
As a team, Georgia had 328 yards rushing and an all-time school record 713 yards total offense against FAU. Ken Malcome had 46 yards rushing on seven carries, five of them after Gurley and Marshall called it a night in the third quarter.
– Tim Tucker, AJC
COMPLETE POSTGAME COVERAGE OF GEORGIA’S VICTORY OVER FLORIDA ATLANTIC: