‘Gurshall’ leads Georgia to victory in 51-44 shootout with Vols

Georgia tailback eludes the last of two would-be tacklers on his way to a 51-yard touchdown against Tennessee on Saturday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlint)

Georgia tailback eludes the last of two would-be tacklers on his way to a 51-yard touchdown against Tennessee on Saturday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Herschel was in the house on Saturday, but “Gurshall” stole the show.

“Gurshall” is the nickname Georgia fans have bestowed upon freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, whose number 3 and 4 jerseys are reminiscent of Herschel Walker’s famous and now-retired number 34. With Walker on the sideline for part of Saturday’s game against Tennessee, the duo combined on a Herschel-like performance – 294 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns — as the Bulldogs won an offensive shootout at Sanford Stadium, 51-44 over Tennessee.

“Yeah, we’ve seen [the ‘Gurshall’ references],” said Marshall, who now has 408 yards and 5 touchdowns as a Bulldog. “It’s a cool little nickname. You’re talking about the greatest ever, so I’m not going to say we’re all that. But it’s cool to see.”

Gurley was the workhorse and Marshall was racehorse in Saturday’s scenario. Marshall had touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards and finished with 164 yards on 10 carries. Gurley carried the ball a career-high 24 times for 130 yards and 3 TDs. Gurley also had a 51-yard scoring run and has now scored 10 touchdowns in five games.

“Honestly, with the backs we have in Todd and Keith, we know if we just execute and finish our blocks, they’re can make big runs,” Georgia junior offensive lineman Chris Burnette said. “That’s really all we focus on.”

Georgia, which came in leading the SEC in total offense and scoring, piled up 560 yards, including 282 on the ground. The Bulldogs have now scored 40 or more points in five straight games for the first time in school history.

The victory was No. 5 Georgia’s third in a row over Tennessee and represented its 15th straight regular-season victory going back to last year. The Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0) are off to their first 5-0 start since 2006. They play No. 6 South Carolina in Columbia next Saturday.

“Well, that was fun,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who recorded his eighth career victory over the Vols. “I’m sure CBS enjoyed that. The ratings should be good. I’m just glad we won.”

It was the proverbial “barn-burner.” Tennessee also had a huge offensive night, piling up 478 total yards on 85 plays. Quarterback Tyler Bray had 281 yards and 2 touchdowns but was undone by three interceptions. Atlanta native Rajion Neal also had 104 yards for the Vols.

Though Georgia twice built 14-point leads in the second half, the game remained in doubt until the very last seconds of the game. Cornerback Sanders Commings recorded his second interception of the game with 7 seconds remaining when Bray’s desperation deep pass bounced of the hands of receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. With the Vols out of timeouts, only then was Georgia about to assume victory formation.

Though Georgia’s renowned defense found itself on its heels for much of the game’s final three quarters, the Bulldogs made the plays when they had to. The Vols’ last three possessions of the night ended with two interceptions and a fumble.

Georgia’s cause was helped considerably by the return of two defensive players who had been suspended for the first four games. Linebacker Alec Ogletree with 14 tackles and three pass break-ups.

Free safety Bacarri Rambo was second with 9.

“I feel fine about the way we played on defense,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I understand the issues we had today… . The newness of the positions some guys were playing after four games off hurt us. Moving forward we should become a little more consistent with our play.”

Unable to slow down Tennessee for most of the last three quarters, the Bulldogs finally got stops on the Vols’ last three possessions of the game. None was bigger than the very last one as cornerback Sanders Commings snagged his second interception of the night with seven seconds remaining on the night. At that point Tennessee had taken over at its own 35 with a chance to tie or win.

On Tennessee’s possession before that, linebacker Jordan Jenkins pressured Bray and forced a fumble, which John Jenkins recovered at the Georgia 31. But the Bulldogs were unable to get a first down on offense to put the game away.

“Those guys, they just have so many playmakers on offense,” said Commings. “Those guys are pretty good. This was a learning experience. We just need to go back and correct the mistakes we made. If we do that we’ll be back to holding teams to three points.”

The 95 highest combined fourth highest in SEC history for a non-overtime game.

Despite the close call against an unranked team, the Bulldogs claim they will head to Columbia next week a confident team.

“Besides the turnovers, we were doing a great job offensively,” said quarterback Aaron Murray, who had 278 yards passing and 2 TDs. “We scored three times in a row in the second half. If we take care of the ball we’ll be fine.”

The first half brought back memories of one of Georgia’s greatest collapses of modern era. The Bulldogs leapt ahead 27-10 early in the second quarter only to need a 50-yard field goal from Marshall Morgan at the halftime buzzer to forge a 30-30 tie.

“I’ve always believed this team had some fight in them, we just had to go out and prove it,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “We got hit by a freight train early in the game, but we were able to fight back and get back into it.”

In 2006, the Bulldogs shot out to a 24-7 lead in the second quarter. But turnovers and unsound special teams play let the Vols back in it at the end of the half and Tennessee rolled in the second on the way to a 51-33 victory.

Similarly, Georgia seemed comfortably in control early in the second quarter. Gurley had just scored on a spectacular 51-yard run with 11:48 left until halftime when Morgan missed the point-after attempt. It seemed insignificant at the time, but very little went right for the Bulldogs after that.

Georgia’s defense would get the ball back for its offense. But Malcolm Mitchell’s poor decision to let the ensuing punt go resulted in the ball being downed at the Bulldogs’ 1.

Georgia would spend the rest of the quarter deep in its own territory. The Bulldogs had to punt the ball away from their own 9 and Tennessee took over at midfield. On third-and-8 at the Georgia 20, Bray hit Justin Hunter on slant for 18 yards down to the Bulldogs’ 2. Two plays later, Gainesville native A.J. Johnson, who normally plays linebacker, ran it in from a yard out. Just like that, Georgia’s lead was shrunk to 27-17 with 4:53 still left in the first half.

It quickly got worse. On Georgia’s ensuing possession, Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers busted through right guard untouched on a blitz and sacked Murray, who fumbled on the play. Tennessee’s Johnson recovered at the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line.

The Vols scored three plays later when Bray hit Zach Rogers over the middle for a four-yard touchdown on third down. They, too, missed the point-after, but suddenly Tennessee had close to 27-23 with 2:55 left in the second quarter.

Disaster stuck Georgia again as Gurley stepped out of bounds at the 1 trying to field the ensuing kickoff. The Bulldogs seemed to have averted catastrophe when they converted on third down to get the ball out to the 18. But Murray and Marshall mishandled a handoff exchange on first down Tennessee lineman Darrington Sentimore recovered at the Georgia 18.

Tennessee cashed in the turnover again as Bray hit wide open running back Rajion Neal – another Georgia native – in the left flat for a touchdown. That gave the Vols a 30-27 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the half.

Georgia finally did something positive. The Bulldogs managed to drive 33 yards in 37 seconds to set up a 50-yard field goal try for Morgan. He made it at the halftime buzzer, and the teams adjourned to the locker rooms in a hard-to-believe 30-30 tie.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF GEORGIA-TENNESSEE GAME:

229 comments Add your comment

uga student

September 29th, 2012
9:19 pm

Go dawgs! Can two players split a heisman??

Big Enos Burdette

September 29th, 2012
9:20 pm

Max Sizemore

September 29th, 2012
9:21 pm

The defense must play better.

Rationale

September 29th, 2012
9:21 pm

Good workout for sure.

Big Enos Burdette

September 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

Let’s see if Richt will ask SC for a “red-out” this week

beanster

September 29th, 2012
9:23 pm

” If we take care of the ball we’ll be fine.”

Yes, Aaron. That’s a good idea. Please make sure that happens.

John W Holmes

September 29th, 2012
9:23 pm

Grantham is an idiot if he’s okay with that disgraceful performance by the D. Pathetic!

Left Coast Dawg

September 29th, 2012
9:29 pm

Had to go to a funeral today, missed the game but saw the score. Will have to watch the DVR replay.

Pj

September 29th, 2012
9:29 pm

That was the weirdest uga game I’ve ever seen. I’ll take the win.

CHDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:33 pm

51 points in three quarters against TN! Remarkable. The D gave up 37, but the turnovers didn’t help them. They will improve. They were a top ten D last year, but we gave up a lot early. Great win.

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:34 pm

Reminds me of when Joe Cox was playing.

Jeff

September 29th, 2012
9:40 pm

The problem with the D? Lack of pass rush. Eight sacks in 5 games is not good when you consider J Jones has 4 1/2 of them. Someone else has to step up. Where’s C. Washington been?

Italian_29

September 29th, 2012
9:49 pm

Troll hard sic dawg! The trolls were saying the same thing before this game, the Vandy game, and the Mizzou game. That said, the defense better step up next week or The Darth Visor is going to open a can of whoop azz on us.

Italian_29

September 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

We are still 5-0 and 3-0 in the SEC.

Apostle

September 29th, 2012
9:52 pm

Grantham must’ve been at another game if he thought the D played fine.Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.What a horrible defensive showing.

K-Town Dawg

September 29th, 2012
9:53 pm

“Going to lose to SC for sure” Really?

The same SC that is only up by 10 with 9 minutes left in the 4th against Kentucky?

Yeah, they are really looking like world beaters against Joker’s club.

At some point every team has to just escape a game with a win. While I agree that the D could have played better, this team won a game that in years past it would have lost. Let fix the mistakes and get ready for SC.

Go Dawgs!

dawglova

September 29th, 2012
9:54 pm

Just looked out of curiosity…Gurley and Marshall have each outrushed Cromwell this year. And he’s running against ASU comp. I bring this up because one of my boys sad while the game was on_”man don’t you wish Cromwell was back there with these two”. No I do not. By the way crowells got about 340 yds

Brian

September 29th, 2012
9:55 pm

Looks like another year in which the Dawgs might win the SEC East, NOT because they are the best team but because they have the weakest conference schedule. Last year the Dawgs’ regular season schedule did not include Alabama, LSU or Arkansas, the top three in the SEC West. This year the Dawgs’ regular season schedule again does not include the top three teams in the SEC West, Alabama, LSU or Mississippi State. If Georgia gives an award for the person most valuable to the team, that award has to do to whoever it is in the SEC office who comes up with the conference schedules.

dawglova

September 29th, 2012
9:55 pm

Crowell …..damn auto correct

azdawg

September 29th, 2012
10:00 pm

D was exposed today and better hope they tighten it up the rest of the way. Going to have a hard time stoppinn Lattimore and Shaw next week if todays game any indication of whas to come. If dawgs can score next week like they did today, w/o the t/o’s then hopefully D can do just enuf to win in SC. Looks like SC will beat KY so both they and GA will be 5-0. SC’s D is better then TN so Bobo better keep the foot on the gas and not go conservative if dawgs have early success w/the passing game. Shore up that D if they want to come out of Columbia w/a W. GO DAWGS

David

September 29th, 2012
10:01 pm

SC giving up a lot of big plays against a sorry UK team. Dawgs will be okay and will score over 40 next week as well.

MaconKnight

September 29th, 2012
10:08 pm

I totally agree with Jeff Where is C Washington outside of J.J. we dont have anyone who can get to the qb and it showed today. It seems like the two suspended guys may have disrupted the chemistry we were developing thru the first 3 weeks I expect things will flow better. 1. someone has to emerge opposite of J.J. 2. would like to see Mitchell only as a wideout and CB, I believe Swann would be a better returner 3. Overall better defense discipline better technique

[...] Game story: ‘Gurshall’ leads Dogs to win in 51-44 shootout [...]

[...] Game story: ‘Gurshall’ leads Dogs to win in 51-44 shootout [...]

Vampire Bill

September 29th, 2012
10:18 pm

Baffled by the lack of 1st down’s for our offense in the 4th? Fall-N-Tears owned us late in the 4th quarter on both sides of the ball but the better team did win. Go dawgs…

NORRIS

September 29th, 2012
10:25 pm

we played against a very good offensive line with Tenn. thats it.

PAUL JOHNSON

September 29th, 2012
10:25 pm

BASED ON THIS SCORE AND ON THE WEST VA- BAYLOR SCORE WE CAN PRETTY MUCH SUM UP THAT COLLEGE PLAYERS DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY DEFENSE…..

Son of Sammy Davis Jr, Jr

September 29th, 2012
10:26 pm

Spurrier is coming…………………

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

September 29th, 2012
10:26 pm

You guys sure do have an awesome defense. It’s a good thing Grantham picked up for Bobo’s shortcoming.

Idiots…

steve

September 29th, 2012
10:27 pm

Also agree with Jeff. Zero pass rush. Jones can’t bull rush a SEC tackle. He didn’t do much tonight and was single blocked. No one laid a hand on Bray until the last two drives. That won’t work against a good qb.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

September 29th, 2012
10:28 pm

Didn’t the dumbest fan base in the country just give their 4th choice coordinator a raise?

edawg

September 29th, 2012
10:33 pm

I thought Richt looked so excited when we made that field goal before the half way to go Richt. The tide is still white trash and always will be

VFP42

September 29th, 2012
10:38 pm

Team was doing great this year until suspended troublemakers came back. Send them the way of Isayah Crowell!!

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

September 29th, 2012
10:40 pm

I bet Honey Boo Boo is a UGA fan and thinks you have a great defense.

Rick James

September 29th, 2012
10:40 pm

@The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it
——————————————————————————–
He some news for you my uninformed friend.When Georgia was circling Kirby Smart trying to lure him away the first call Saban made was to Todd Grantham.And guess what he said.If Kirby goes to Georgia you’re the guy I want..If you want proof pick up this book.”How The SEC Became Goliath by Ray Glier.” Its there in black and white.Maybe you dont know it but Kirby does not run that defense its Saban.Kirby is just a recruiter and a puppet.Grantham wouldnt play that role…

well

September 29th, 2012
10:41 pm

your team is playing now, and your on a GA blog….you sir are an idiot! Likewise, we will stop the red tide and your “vaunted” o-line……………..good day

WDE

September 29th, 2012
10:45 pm

@The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it ..wait for it …..if we let the Tide score 40 and we score 41 we are good…

The Factor

September 29th, 2012
10:47 pm

Just another Dawg victory, ho hum! Routine win, don’t know what all the fuss is all about!! Go dawgs!!

Rick James

September 29th, 2012
10:48 pm

@dawglova

Just looked out of curiosity…Gurley and Marshall have each outrushed Cromwell this year. And he’s running against ASU comp. I bring this up because one of my boys sad while the game was on_”man don’t you wish Cromwell was back there with these two”. No I do not. By the way crowells got about 340 yds
——————————————————————————————————————————–
Did you think about the fact that Crowell is running behind ASU’s line while Gurley and Marshall are running behind Georgia’s?

outkasted

September 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

All I know is Alabama don’t play the best 3 in the east Ga FL SC

The Bear

September 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

UGA has no defense. Sell that crap somewhere else. Vols hung 40 plus on your “D”

Rick James

September 29th, 2012
10:53 pm

@well

your team is playing now, and your on a GA blog….you sir are an idiot! Likewise, we will stop the red tide and your “vaunted” o-line……………..good day
——————————————————————————————————————————–
You hit on the head..He’s not watching because his team got blown out today at Bobby Dodd by a Sun Belt team..Tech fans love to pretend to be Alabama fans and post on Georgia blogs.Why would fans of the #1 team in the nation and the defending national champions waste time talking smack to fans of the #5 team? Tech fans

atlxmen

September 29th, 2012
10:56 pm

the dawgs defense played very well considering they only had about an avg of 2 to 4 min rest time..between uga scoring really fast and the 2 quick turnovers and 2 bad special teams play there at the end of the 2nd qt that led to 20 points for tenn..if uga cut down on that the score would have been more like 51 to 20…not worried one bit about uga defense against a pretty avg offense of the gamecocks…

WDE

September 29th, 2012
10:58 pm

@The Bear we are 5-0 kiss our grits loving asses..

atlxmen

September 29th, 2012
11:00 pm

bear uga defense was number in the country last year and have just about the whole defense back,,they will be fine and by the end of the year, they will be ranked top 5 again…no worries

harold

September 29th, 2012
11:01 pm

Giving up 44 points to a Dooley coached Tennessee spells trouble for UGA. The Vols are horrible. Dooley is likely 0-4 after the death march that ends with the USC game.

Then Gruden becomes their coach!

ugaclassof2004

September 29th, 2012
11:02 pm

Well the offense looked great.

Now the Con’s: We CAN NOT turn the ball over 3 times( especially within the 20 yard line) and expect to win. We had the Vols on the ropes and ready to quit in the 1st quarter and those turnovers by Murray and Marshall completely gave them new life. Football is a game of momentum. You have to take advantage of your opportunities and not allow other teams to get back into the game. It’s that mentality right there that cost us in the SEC title game vs. LSU. We are not a good enough football team to make mistakes like that. There are also clear soft spots in our defense, most notably our inside LB’s and CB’s.

All that being said, there are always going to be those games where as a team you get hit in the mouth, and how you respond to that lets you know what kind of team you have. 2-3 years ago we would have mentally folded and lost this game.But the Dawgs found a way to pull this one out. You don’t want to make a living doing that, but it’s the SEC and sometimes you just have to gut out a game or two . We did that, and that’s a good thing. Hopefully this will be a wake up call for Richt & Co. going into next week.

atlxmen

September 29th, 2012
11:03 pm

pretty sure uga has played better offenses than ala has aswell .. will most likely see the 2 teams meet in the sec championship game and both teams should be playing great by that time…will be fun to watch..

UGA 1981

September 29th, 2012
11:03 pm

Nothing is for sure, and nobody can predict the future. South Carolina has a stout defense and UGA has a very high powered offense with balance (something that is rare in college football). Tennessee is no push over and were 3-1 heading into this matchup. If anybody thought this game was going to be like the Vanderbilt score, then you know nothing about football. Tennessee will beat somebody big on their schedule this year just wait and see. Oh and by the way SC barely beat Vandebilt (with or without Shaw, the rest of the team hardly won). UGA inihilated Vandy 45-3. You just never know what can happen. Oh and some of you are wondering why Jarvis Jones was the only legitimate pass rusher tonight. Well Tennessee has a great Qb and their offense relies on the passing game (345 yds/gm). So Ogletree and Robinson were needed in coverage more than frantically chasing Bray. Think before you post about things you know not of.

The Bear

September 29th, 2012
11:07 pm

@WDE that you are and your vaunted defense are giving up 27.6 points a game. Yea you should be proud.