Murray, Gurley star in No.5 Georgia’s rout

ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray threw four
touchdown passes, Todd Gurley became only the second true freshman in
Georgia history to rush for 1,000 yards, and the No. 5 Bulldogs bounced
back from a sluggish start to blow out lower-division Georgia Southern
45-14 Saturday.

Georgia (10-1) reached 10 wins for the
eighth time in Mark Richt’s dozen seasons as coach. Georgia Southern
(8-3) had a shot at the halftime lead, only to get scuttled by a
penalty, and Murray took control from there.

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.

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.

Georgia Southern (8-3) 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 send 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 from Statesboro.

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.

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.

As expected, Georgia marched right down
the field on its first possession. Murray connected with Arthur Lynch
on a 49-yard pass, Zander Ogletree kept the drive going with a 4-yard
run on fourth-and-1, and Gurley powered over from the 1 to give the
Bulldogs a quick lead.

It got tougher from there.

The next time Georgia 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 field the ball in the back of the end zone.

Catching the Bulldogs off guard,
Robinson suddenly sprinted out of the end zone 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. Georgia Southern ran it 10 straight times,
capped by McKinnon’s 1-yard sneak that that drew big cheers from the
small contingent in blue in the corner of an end zone.

Georgia answered with Morgan’s 37-yard
field goal, but Georgia Southern might have gone to halftime with the
lead if not for a crucial penalty.

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.

With 1:03 left, Murray quickly guided
the Bulldogs down the field — thanks to another big call against the
Eagles. Terico Agnew was flagged for a late hit on the Georgia
quarterback after he delivered an incomplete pass. Jay Rome hauled in a
21-yard pass, allowing the Bulldogs to take three shots at the end zone
in the closing seconds even with no timeouts left.

The first two were incomplete. But
Murray went to Mitchell in the left corner for the score that
essentially snuffed out any hope the Eagles had of pulling off a
shocking upset.