Georgia announced its spring football award winners before Saturday's kickoff to G-Day:
MVP -- WR Chris Conley
True Grit -- OT Xzavier Ward
Hustle -- WR Justin Scott-Wesley
Most Improved -- FB Quayvon Hicks
MVP -- S Josh Harvey-Clemons
True Grit -- DE Sterling Bailey
Hustle -- ILB Ramik Wilson
Most Improved -- S Tray Matthews
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Mark Richt was encouraged by Saturday's spring game and did not put a lot into the outcome.
Some of his players felt otherwise.
"I think we got the better of them," inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "You've seen the score. We just played football like we normally do, and we stopped them."
The Black team, which consisted of the starting defense and the second-team offense, rallied to defeat the Red team 23-17 before a record G-Day crowd of 45,113 at Sanford Stadium. Quarterback Aaron Murray led the Red side to touchdown drives on the first and last possessions of the opening half, but Murray started only one drive in the second half as a 17-7 lead wilted away.
Murray completed 12 of 18 passes for 200 yards, which included a 16-yard touchdown throw to Justin Scott-Wesley and a 4-yard scoring strike to Rhett McGowan.
"We definitely made some great plays," Murray said. "Obviously we didn't make as many as we wanted, but we have four or five months until our first game. I'm happy with the progress, and I'm happy with how hard our guys are willing to work."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was less than thrilled with the play of his starters, saying, "We've got a long way to go if we think we've arrived as an offense. We have a lot of work to do."
The Red offense torched the Black defense to open the game, marching 75 yards in five plays and scoring on the pass from Murray to Scott-Wesley. Tight end Arthur Lynch was open at midfield when he dropped a pass from receiver Rantavious Wooten on the first play from scrimmage, but Murray connected with Wooten for 24 yards on the next play.
Tailback Todd Gurley then went over the right side for 12 yards, and a personal foul on the defense moved the ball to the Black 24-yard line.
The Red struggled on its next three possessions before Marshall Morgan's 32-yard field goal at the 8:30 mark of the second quarter made it 10-0.
"I think we did a good job," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "Their eyes weren't where they needed to be in that first series, and there were a couple of things in there that they had not seen. They battled back, and I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage and were good on third down. I think Gurley's longest run was 12 yards, so I think that was a positive.
"I think they did what they needed to do. We're a young team that's going to continue to work to get better."
Hutson Mason passed to Jonathan Rumph over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown to pull the Black within 10-7 with 1:01 left in the first half, but that would be too much time for Murray. The fifth-year senior had a 33-yard completion to McGowan and a 37-yard completion to Scott-Wesley before connecting again with McGowan to reclaim a 10-point advantage for the Red.
Rumph caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Parker Welch to get the Black within 17-14 at the 9:36 mark of the third quarter, which preceded field goals by Adam Erickson, Patrick Beless and Thomas Pritchard for the Black. Rumph had four receptions for 98 yards and the two scores.
"That's really the first time all spring he's made some plays, so that was good to see," Bobo said.
Mason completed 16 of 27 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"Throughout the spring you're installing things," Richt said. "When you make it strictly about competition, sometimes you forget to teach the fundamentals or see everybody you need to see. I think we had a good mix of installing everything we wanted to expose our players to and see as many different guys at different positions as possible yet still compete well."
Freshman defensive tackle John Atkins left the field on crutches, but Richt did not believe there were any serious injuries.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...