Aerial Attack Powers No. 4 Georgia Past Georgia Southern
VIDEO: Post-game interview with Coach Jeff Monken
VIDEO: Post-game interview with QB Jerick McKinnon
VIDEO: Post-game interview with LB John Stevenson
VIDEO: Post-game interview with Dominique Swope
VIDEO: Post-game interview with J.J. Wilcox
ATHENS, Ga. – Aaron Murray passed for 330 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 4 Georgia to a 45-14 football victory over Georgia Southern Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.
Jerick McKinnon had 19 carries for 109 yards and two scores to lead Georgia Southern (8-3), and Dominique Swope logged 17 carries for 92 yards. Darreion Robinson finished with 12 carries for 54 yards.
Murray completed 18-of-28 passes on the day for the Bulldogs (10-1), and Chris Conley caught four passes for 76 yards and a pair of scores. Tavarres King caught three balls for 61 yards and a score, and Todd Gurley rushed 15 times for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia Southern drove the ball inside the Georgia 40-yard line on all four of its first-half possessions but came away with just seven points.
The turning point of the game came late in the second quarter. Trailing 10-7, Georgia Southern moved the ball down to the Georgia 7-yard line, where the Eagles faced 4th-and-1. Swope picked up the first down with a run up the middle, but the Eagles were flagged for a chop block and had to settle for an Alex Hanks 39-yard field goal try.
The kick sailed wide right with 1:03 on the clock, and Georgia capitalized, going 78 yards in 59 seconds for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead at the break. Murray hit Jay Rome with a 21-yard pass and then found Malcolm Mitchell for a 24-yard touchdown strike in the left corner of the end zone just before the break.
"I thought we played really tough in the first half and to convert that fourth down, run the clock down and come away with points, maybe even a touchdown and be up 14-10 at halftime would have been huge for us in terms of momentum," said Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken. "But we have to overcome things like that. We talk a lot about making enough plays to win the game and eliminate the 'what ifs,' and we were not able to do that today."
That score sparked a stretch of 28 unanswered points for the Bulldogs as they opened a 38-7 cushion. Murray threw to Conley for a 13-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter and found King for a 43-yard touchdown pass just over three minutes later. A 33-yard touchdown connection on a wide receiver screen from Murray to Conley capped the run with 2:39 left in the third.
McKinnon scored on a 23-yard touchdown with 6:41 left in the contest to make the margin 38-14. On 4th-and-3, McKinnon followed a block left and then cut right, scampering around the end and into the end zone. The senior signal caller carried five times for 60 yards in the 81-yard scoring drive.
Both teams moved the ball up and down the field in the first half, and neither team punted. On its opening possession, GSU drove 38 yards down to the Bulldog 34 but Swope was stopped short on-4th and-1.
Robinson set the Eagles up with great field position for their second possession of the contest.Georgia drove into GSU territory but could not convert on 3rd-and-15 and had to settle for a Marshall Morgan 51-yard field goal attempt. The try was short and Robinson caught the ball, tip-toed the back line of the end zone and returned it 59 yards to the Georgia 41. It was the longest return of the senior's career.
The Eagles converted one first down, but on the next play, McKinnon dropped back to pass, pump faked and the ball came out of his hands for a fumble, which Bulldog Garrison Smith recovered.
With the Eagles trailing 7-0, McKinnon evened the score with a 1-yard touchdown run 3:07 into the second quarter following a Bulldog turnover. A Rhett McGowan fumble recovered by Dion Dubose set the Eagles up at their own 45, and GSU went 55 yards in 10 plays.
The Eagles converted two third downs along the way as McKinnon gained four yards on 3rd-and-1, and Johnathan Bryant ran for seven yards on 3rd-and -2. Swope followed that with a 12-yard gain to the 1-yard line to set the table for McKinnon.
Georgia drove down to the GSU 12-yard line on their next possession, but on 3rd-and-8 Patrick Flowe sacked Murray for a 7-yard loss. The Bulldogs settled for a 37-yard field goal by Murray and a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Bulldogs scored on their first possession of the game as Gurley plunged in from a yard out. The drive was keyed by a 49-yard pass from Murray to Arthur Lynch on the third play of the game and a four-yard run by Alexander Ogletree on 4th-and-1 from the Eagle 5-yard line.
The Eagles fall to 0-20 against FBS (formerly I-A) teams and 0-11 against ranked FBS teams. Swope saw his streak of nine straight games with a rushing touchdown come to an end.
The Eagles earned the Southern Conference's automatic FCS playoff bid as The Citadel defeated Furman toady. The playoff pairings will be announced in a selection show Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and will air live on ESPNU.
Georgia Southern Athletics provides up-to-date information on all its sports through its official website, GSEagles.com, through social media channels facebook.com/GSAthletics and twitter.com/GSAthletics, and its new "Eagles GATA" mobile app for Android and iOS.
- Category: Football
- Published on Sunday, 31 December 1899 19:00