Georgia Bulldogs struggling to polish off opponents

Georgia Bulldogs struggling to polish off opponents

November 4th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia's Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs found a way to hang on Saturday for a narrow win over Florida in the latest close game for UGA this season.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The Georgia Bulldogs continued their recent success over Florida on Saturday with a 23-20 victory.

They also continued their flair for the dramatic.

Leading 23-3 midway through the third quarter, the Bulldogs turned the ball over on a lateral and gave up a safety to allow the Gators back into the game. In seven of Georgia's eight games this season, the Bulldogs have either led by as many as four points or trailed by as many as four points during the fourth quarter.

The only exception was Georgia's 45-21 win over North Texas on Sept. 21, which was a 21-21 deadlock midway through the third quarter.

"They must like it," Georgia coach Mark Richt said of his players after Saturday's game. "I don't like it. It makes you wonder if this is really a good way to make a living."

While close calls have been a constant all season, they have been the result of blown leads in three of Georgia's last four games. The Bulldogs led Tennessee 17-3 midway through the third quarter and led Vanderbilt 27-14 going into the fourth quarter before establishing their first 20-point bulge over the Gators in 16 years.

The Bulldogs were able to survive Saturday and early last month to Knoxville, but they were not as fortunate in Nashville.

"It seems like it's happened every week," senior quarterback Aaron Murray said.

At Tennessee, the Bulldogs missed a field goal and had a punt blocked as their lead evaporated. It was a fumbled punt return and a high snap on a punt that led to Georgia's downfall at Vanderbilt. Then came Saturday's lateral, which tight end Arthur Lynch thought was an incomplete pass.

"You just can't predict the kinds of things that have happened," Richt said Sunday afternoon. "It's mostly self-inflicted wounds, and I've used that term more than I've liked to this season. A high snap. A dropped snap. A dropped punt. A dropped ball that ends up being a lateral.

"You know things like that can happen, but you would like to make people earn it and make it a little tougher on them."

Georgia could get its first breather of the season this week when Appalachian State visits. The Mountaineers have been a Championship Subdivision power in recent years but have struggled this season, falling to 2-7 after Saturday's 35-28 home loss to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Richt does not foresee his team having a letdown this week, given its weekly habit of playing close games. The Bulldogs are now 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the SEC after defeating the Gators for a third straight year, and they remain in the running for a third straight East Division title.

"It's important for us to be in the race, and it's just easier to get up and go to work the next day," Richt said. "The biggest thing right now is that we can think of what can be instead of what could have been."

Odds and ends

Richt did not have an update Sunday for sophomore tailback Todd Gurley, who was limping noticeably after amassing 100 rushing and 87 receiving yards against the Gators. ... Murray on the Florida rivalry: "You try to say this game is like every other week, but it isn't. It's a different feel." ... Richt does not expect junior receiver Chris Conley (ankle) to play against the Mountaineers. ... Richt after the game praised Nathan Theus, who handled all the snapping chores.

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