Georgia football players picking up the pieces

Georgia football players picking up the pieces

November 20th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) reacts after Auburn scored the game-winning touchdown Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Time heals all wounds.

Georgia football players are going to need more time.

The Bulldogs are preparing for their final home game Saturday night against Kentucky, but the vision of Auburn's miraculous 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis on fourth-and-18 this past weekend remains all too vivid. The desperation heave was heading straight for Georgia safety Tray Matthews, but teammate Josh Harvey-Clemons collided into Matthews, causing a deflection that Louis juggled and snagged with 25 seconds remaining to propel Auburn to a 43-38 victory.

"You've got to get over it and make yourself get over it, but that's kind of hard to forget," Georgia inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera said Tuesday. "I'm watching the ball in the air, just knowing it was about to get picked or knocked down. Then you see it bounce up, and you're like, 'No way.'"

The crushing defeat eliminated Georgia from the SEC East chase, and it was the sixth game the Bulldogs have played this season to be decided by five or fewer points. It was also the second gut-wrenching loss with dejected players strewn all over the field that the Bulldogs have suffered in 11 months.

Georgia was 5 yards away from defeating Alabama in last December's SEC title game when receiver Chris Conley, on the final play, instinctively caught a tipped pass from Aaron Murray when the Bulldogs were out of time outs.

"The way this one ended was probably worse," tight end Arthur Lynch said. "If this had been the ending of the SEC championship game, I don't know if I would have survived it."

Said Conley: "Whenever you lose late, it's devastating, and I think this one is worse just because it's more recent and this season is what matters right now."

A lot of Bulldogs players got away from football Sunday, with some having more success than others. Nose tackle Garrison Smith went to see "The Best Man Holiday" starring Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard and enjoyed the movie.

Lynch opted instead for the horror genre and watched "The Conjuring."

"That was the biggest mistake of my life," Lynch said. "I'm still not right in the head from that. We're Catholic, so I started throwing holy water on my bed. I did not feel like getting possessed that night."

Murray and Conley were among several players who spent Sunday working with disabled or underprivileged children.

"They didn't care what your record was," Conley said. "They didn't even care that you were a football player. They were just glad that you were there to spend time and play games with them."

Georgia coach Mark Richt said the loss at Auburn could still be a topic of discussion during the offseason but that he and his Bulldogs don't have time to dwell on it now. His team is 6-4 overall and 4-3 in SEC play, and wins over the Wildcats and at Georgia Tech next week could help soothe last week's heartbreak.

Richt stressed leaving the Auburn game behind when he met with his team Monday, and he said spirits have been good in practice. Whether the Bulldogs are truly over last week will not be known until they face a Wildcats team that is 2-8 overall and 0-6 in league play.

"I would rather get blown out than have to lose a game in that kind of fashion," Murray said. "We've had some tough losses this season, so we know how to come back and get to work and get ready for another opponent."

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