Georgia Dogs' lateral gets Gators back in game

Georgia Dogs' lateral gets Gators back in game

November 3rd, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia Bulldogs UGA logo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At the start of the third quarter of Saturday's Georgia-Florida game, the Gators assembled a 14-play drive but came up empty by missing a 47-yard field-goal try.

Georgia had a 23-3 lead, and the game was over.

Or not.

On the ensuing possession for the Bulldogs, quarterback Aaron Murray threw to the left sideline for Arthur Lynch, who couldn't come up with the ball at Georgia's 24-yard line. While Lynch popped his helmet in frustration, Florida defensive lineman Leon Orr picked up the lateral and ran 10 yards to the 14.

"You're always supposed to fall on the ball, and we had practiced that play all week," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "The best look we could hope for is when they brought that weakside corner like they did, and when he lined up tight, I said, 'We're going to have a huge play.' Lynch didn't get enough of the corner and drifted too far back.

"It was one of those plays that had we caught it, it would have been explosive, but it didn't work out that way. We put our defense in a couple of bad situations tonight."

Officials went to the replay booth, where the call was confirmed. Florida quickly used two Mack Brown runs to pull within 23-10, and the game continued to tighten before Georgia prevailed 23-20.

"When it happened, I thought it was a lateral," Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said. "That's why I was screaming for them to get the ball and then to tackle the guy."

Finally, no picks

Murray completed 16 of 25 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown in becoming the first quarterback to defeat Florida three consecutive times since Buck Belue from 1979 to '81. Saturday also was the first time Murray was not intercepted by the Gators.

"He was throwing bullets and letting it rip, and from the start I told him today that we were going to cut it loose," Bobo said. "I wanted him to trust it and have no regrets, and I thought he did a great job."

Murray threw three pickoffs against Florida as a freshman, one as a sophomore and three again last year.

"I've seen Murray in his career when his eyes were a little wider," Richt said, smiling.

Big year continues

Bulldogs sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan made field goals of 49, 27 and 32 yards against the Gators.

Marshall is now 13-for-15 on field-goal attempts this season after going just 8-of-14 as a freshman. He has made eight consecutive kicks, beginning with his 42-yarder that defeated Tennessee 34-31 in overtime on Oct. 5.

"Right now, I'm just feeling great," Morgan said. "Ever since really the LSU game, I've just felt my confidence go up a notch. I just feel so much more comfortable out there on the field."

Odds and ends

Michael Bennett, who returned for the first time since tearing his meniscus Oct. 5 at Tennessee, and former Calhoun High standout Rhett McGowan were the starting receivers for Georgia. The two combined for eight receptions for 102 yards. ... Junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles. ... Florida coach Will Muschamp on fan disgruntlement during the game: "I don't spend two seconds thinking about that." ... The Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl had representatives at Saturday's game.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.