ATHENS – It wasn’t as easy as it may look on the scoreboard.
No. 5 Georgia beat Georgia Southern 45-14 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. But for one half at least, the Eagles had the Bulldogs worried.
The teams had played to a tie at 7 through the first 23 minutes and the Bulldogs were clinging to a 10-7 lead inside the final two minutes of the first half with Georgia Southern threatening to score a go-ahead touchdown. But the last 90 seconds of the half changed the course of the game.
Georgia Southern’s Trevor McBurnett was called for a personal foul for a chop block on noseguard Kwame Geathers on a run that would have made it first-and-goal inside the 5. Instead, the penalty backed up the Eagles to the 22 and kicker Alex Hanks missed the 37-yard field goal attempt.
Aaron Murray made the Eagles pay. Though Georgia took over with only 1:03 on the clock and no timeouts, it would need only 59 seconds to score another touchdown. Murray hit Malcolm Mitchell with a 24-yard strike down the left sideline and the Bulldogs were able to take a 17-7 lead into the locker room.
“I thought that was by far the biggest turning point in the game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We ended up ahead by 10 instead of down by four. … It was a huge change of events.”
Georgia kept the pressure on after halftime. With the Eagles loading up to stone the running game, the Bulldogs simply placed their trust in the right arm of their record-setting junior quarterback. He threw touchdown passes on Georgia’s first three possessions of the second half and the Bulldogs were suddenly ahead 38-7.
“We knew were going to be in a one-minute situation regardless if they scored and we needed to go down the field and score before halftime,” said Murray, who left the game midway through the fourth quarter with 330 passing yards and four touchdowns on 18 of 28 attempts. “When we marched down there and and score that touchdown, I think we really grabbed the momentum.”
– Chip Towers, AJC
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