ATHENS, Ga. — In the break between the first and second quarters of Saturday afternoon's Georgia-North Texas football game, the Bulldogs were on their own 2-yard line and had decided on a deep throw from Aaron Murray to freshman receiver Reggie Davis.
"When I was in the huddle, I was shaking," Davis said. "I tried not to show it, but I was shaking bad. I knew they were going to me, and my main focus was just catching the ball.
"Once I saw the safety miss, I knew I was gone."
The first career reception for Davis went 98 yards for a touchdown and was the biggest of several big plays as the No. 9 Bulldogs sputtered and then rolled over North Texas 45-21 inside a soggy Sanford Stadium. Murray's touchdown to Davis was the 100th aerial score of his career, and it was the longest play in school history.
Buck Belue's 93-yard pass to Lindsay Scott in the 1980 win over Florida was among three plays holding the previous record.
"Reggie is so fast, and I think I was probably more nervous than he was," Murray said. "You get a guy with that kind of speed, and you don't want to underthrow him."
Murray finished the day with 102 career scoring tosses, including a 16-yarder to Arthur Lynch midway through the second quarter and a 4-yard score to Chris Conley late in the third that made it 35-21. The Bulldogs had to work a little longer than expected due to two monstrous special-teams gaffes that resulted in a kickoff return for a touchdown and a blocked punt for a touchdown for the Mean Green.
Bulldogs tailback Todd Gurley was solid but not great in amassing 91 yards on 21 carries, but Murray's 408 passing yards helped enable the Bulldogs to rack up 641 total yards.
Georgia's defense tallied 10 lost-yardage tackles and held North Texas to minus-2 yards rushing until its final drive. The Bulldogs yielded just one defensive score, but the team's scoring defense will take a hit as a result of the special-teams struggles.
"It is what it is," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "They had 190 yards until the last drive. I thought our guys played their tails off. They hung in there in some tough spots and showed some mental toughness. We've really just given up 13 points in the last six quarters."
The biggest play defensively was turned in by freshman safety Tray Matthews, who intercepted Derek Thompson at the Georgia 5-yard line with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter and the Bulldogs leading just 28-21. Matthews gave the credit to junior cornerback Damian Swann for rerouting the receiver.
"It might have looked like he just threw it out there," Matthews said. "I was sitting back there reading the quarterback."
Georgia went three-and-out on its first possession and wasted a 43-yard pass from Murray to Conley on the second drive when Murray was intercepted in the end zone. When the Bulldogs took over a third time, they drove 69 yards in six plays and took a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard run by Gurley.
Murray's interception was the lone blemish of a first half in which he completed 11 of 12 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns.
"I thought he was sharp overall when the whole game is taken into account," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "On the turnover in the end zone, the play broke down and he was trying to hit Michael Bennett. He threw it back across his body and just should have thrown the ball away."
The Bulldogs will host LSU this Saturday.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ...