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11/17/2012 5:59 PM EST
Georgia's Murray throws 4 TD passes in 45-14 rout
GEORGIA 45, GA SOUTHERN 14
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Even with Georgia Southern on the verge of a
halftime lead, Aaron Murray wasn't worried.
He knew No. 5 Georgia was too good to let this one slip away.
Murray threw four touchdown passes, Todd Gurley became only the
second true freshman in Georgia history to rush for 1,000 yards,
and the Bulldogs bounced back from a sluggish start to blow out
lower-division Georgia Southern 45-14 on Saturday.
"We had some good matchups. We had some coverages we didn't
exploit," Murray said. "We were finally able to do that and make
some big plays."
Georgia (10-1) reached 10 wins for the eighth time in Mark
Richt's dozen seasons as coach. Georgia Southern (8-3) wasted a
chance to be ahead at the half - a potential first-and-goal
ruined by a penalty - and that was all the edge Murray needed.
He completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with
just 4 seconds left in the half, sending Georgia to the locker
room with a 17-7 lead. In the third quarter, Murray hooked up
with Chris Conley on a pair of scoring passes, sandwiched around
a 43-yarder to Tavarres King.
"We were shooting ourselves in the foot," Murray said. "It
wasn't like we weren't driving the ball, but we were stopping
ourselves with penalties and turnovers, things like that. Once
we cleaned that up in the second half, we moved up and down the
Georgia got a chance to work against the run-oriented option,
the same scheme they'll see next week in the regular-season
finale against Georgia Tech. Then it's on to the Southeastern
Conference championship game for a likely meeting with No. 4
Alabama, and a possible shot at sneaking into the national
championship race if the Bulldogs can win out.
"We obviously have goals and aspirations. We've had them since
January," Murray said. "Let's just see what happens. We need
some help and we need to win, but we can't worry about who else
is playing and who else needs to lose. We've got to do our thing
and make sure we win our games."
Gurley scored Georgia's first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge. In
the second quarter, he got to 1,000 yards on a 5-yard gain,
joining Herschel Walker in 1980 as the school's only first-year
players to reach that mark. Knowshon Moreno was a redshirt
freshman when he rushed for more than 1,000 in 2007.
"I know I have it, but it doesn't feel like it," Gurley said.
"There's still a lot of football to be played. I just feel like
these are accomplishments you look back at when you leave, 10 or
15 years from now. It's good, but I still have lot of work to
Georgia Southern hung around for the first two quarters, causing
some nervous groans in the predominantly red-clad crowd. But the
Eagles, a Southern Conference powerhouse, were totally
overwhelmed in the second half.
Murray went to Conley for a 13-yard touchdown that stretched the
lead to 24-7. After going deep to King, Murray swung a short
pass to Conley, who took it 33 yards for the score that sent
many of the fans heading for the exits.
Before sitting out most of the fourth quarter, Murray put up his
third four-TD game of the season and seventh of his career. He
finished 18 of 28 for 330 yards.
His counterpart, Jerick McKinnon, rushed for 109 yards and
scored both Georgia Southern touchdowns.
The Eagles dropped to 0-20 against Football Bowl Subdivision
schools, with five of those losses to Georgia. At least they
picked up a nice paycheck ($475,000) for making a quick bus ride
Georgia Southern, co-champions of the Southern Conference, got
some good news on the out-of-town scoreboard when The Citadel
defeated Furman to give the Eagles the league's automatic berth
into the FCS playoffs.
"We came here to win," coach Jeff Monken said. "But games like
this show our guys that we can run the ball against a great
defense and give them some confidence going into the playoffs."
As expected, Georgia marched right down the field on its first
possession. It got tougher from there.
The next time the Bulldogs had the ball, they were in position
to extend the lead on a 51-yard field goal. But Marshall
Morgan's kick came up well short of the goalposts - so much so
that Darreion Robinson, younger brother of Atlanta Falcons
cornerback Dunta Robinson, was able to catch the ball in the
back of the end zone. He suddenly sprinted out and might've
scored if not for a saving tackle by Morgan along the sideline
at the Georgia 41.
McKinnon fumbled away that chance, losing the ball when he tried
to pull back from throwing, but the Bulldogs fumbled it right
back when Rhett McGowan took a big hit over the middle. The
Eagles strung together a tedious drive for the tying TD, running
it 10 straight times before McKinnon's 1-yard sneak.
Georgia answered with Morgan's 37-yard field goal, but Georgia
Southern was in position for a shocking halftime lead.
On fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 7, the Eagles appeared to pick up
the first down on Dominique Swopes' 2-yard run. But guard Trevor
McBurnett was called for a chop block, going at the legs of
massive nose tackle John Jenkins while he was being held up by
another Georgia Southern blocker. After 15 yards were stepped
off, the Eagles attempted a tying field goal. Alex Hanks was
wide right with a 39-yard attempt.
"It was a big penalty," McKinnon said. "But those things happen
when you run this type of offense."
Instead of being ahead or at least tied, the Eagles wound up 10
behind when Murray found Mitchell in the left corner of the end
zone in the closing seconds.
That essentially snuffed out any hope Georgia Southern had of
pulling off the upset.
Follow Paul Newberry at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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