ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs have been racking up their share of offensive numbers in recent seasons, and Saturday was no different.
On a gorgeous afternoon at Sanford Stadium, Georgia's first-team offense got the better of the first-team defense as the Red topped the Black 27-24 before an announced G-Day record crowd of 46,073. Leading the way for the Red was fifth-year senior quarterback Hutson Mason, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown.
Mason's favorite receivers were fellow seniors Michael Bennett and Chris Conley, who totaled 11 catches for 171 yards.
"It was a great day," Bennett said. "When we had our guys in there, we were really just clicking on all cylinders. We really threw the ball a ton, which was kind of tiring us out, because we only had four receivers on the Red team and Conley was a little banged up.
"You're going to be tired in a game, so it was good work in that way, too."
The Red team, which included the starting offense and the second-team defense, gained 261 yards in the first half. Mason was 17-of-25 for 188 yards before halftime, which included a 10-yard, back-shoulder touchdown pass to Reggie Davis that put the Red up for good at 10-7 with 7:31 remaining in the second quarter.
"I like the way we threw the ball today, and no one has higher expectations for myself than me," Mason said. "I want to complete every ball, but I know that's not realistic. I wish I could have thrown the deep ball a little better, but I thought our short and intermediate game went really well."
The Red team's five first-half drives went seven plays for 75 yards, nine plays for 42 yards, 10 plays for 75 yards, 11 plays for 80 yards and four plays for 24 yards. The fifth drive started with 1:20 left in the half and ended when Marshall Morgan missed a 53-yard field-goal try as time expired.
Georgia's defense was showcased before fans at Sanford for the first time with Jeremy Pruitt as the coordinator. Neither Pruitt nor Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo were available to the media after the game, but Black team defenders were in agreement that better days are ahead.
"Coach Pruitt was rotating a lot of guys in to see who could play with the ones, and that was a part of it a little bit, but we missed some assignments, too," senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said. "We've got a long way to go, but we're going to keep progressing. We'll get there."
Said head coach Mark Richt: "I think the offense is ahead of the defense right now, and it makes sense. The entire offensive staff is back, and the entire system is back."
The Red team's first possession ended when Mason connected with Todd Gurley from the 28-yard line for a reception that Gurley took inside the 5 but then fumbled while stretching for the pylon. That resulted in a touchback for the Black, but the Red took its second drive to the Black 15 before settling on Morgan's 33-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
"I told Todd on the sideline that he's 230 pounds and that it would be nice to just bulldoze and fall in because no one is going to stop him," Mason said. "He jumped instead, and that's what happens sometimes. I think it's a learning point and a teaching point for him, but it shows that we're moving the ball."
Early in the second quarter, Faton Bauta connected with receiver Clay Johnson, a redshirt sophomore walk-on from Calhoun, to help set up a 1-yard touchdown run by A.J. Turman that put the Black up 7-3.
The Red responded with its best drive of the day, as an 11-yard run by Gurley and a 25-yard pass from Mason to Bennett, who made a diving reception, moved the possession to the Black 17. After a 7-yard run by Gurley, Mason threw the score to Davis.
Gurley's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:05 left in the half capped another scoring drive for the first-team offense and gave the Red a 17-7 lead.
"Today was the hottest practice of the spring, and I thought they fought through it pretty good," Richt said. "The tempo of the offense was outstanding. Hutson handles the up-tempo pace very well."
G-Day served as Georgia's 13th spring practice. The Bulldogs will work again Tuesday and Thursday.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.