ATHENS, Ga. - Kwame Geathers didn't let a little bit of attention go to his head.
After being recognized Friday as the defensive MVP of Georgia's spring football workouts, the 6-foot-6, 340-pound noseguard made two lost-yardage stops and forced a fumble during Saturday's G-Day game. Geathers helped lead the Black team to an 18-11 victory over the Red before a Sanford Stadium crowd generously estimated at 43,117.
"There was a little bit of pressure on me," Geathers said. "After you get an award, people tend to shut down. I tried to come out and keep going and make sure I made a name for that award."
Ken Malcome's 12-yard touchdown run with 2:53 remaining put the Black up 16-11, and it capped a drive in which early enrollee Christian LeMay completed 3 of 5 passes for 38 yards. Aaron Murray replaced LeMay for the two-point conversion and passed to walk-on Taylor Bradberry for the final tally.
The Red had taken an 11-10 lead with 6:59 remaining on a 5-yard run by Carlton Thomas, but its two-point conversion failed.
"Today was a great day," coach Mark Richt said. "We managed to make it out without any injuries, and I felt both sides played extremely well."
G-Day teams were determined by a draft, and one of the top matchups throughout was Ben Jones, the Red team center, squaring off against Geathers. A redshirt sophomore from Georgetown, S.C., Geathers played in eight games last season and collected just seven tackles, with three coming in the opening rout of Louisiana-Lafayette.
His name was heard more and more throughout spring workouts, and those talents were witnessed Saturday when he stuffed tailback Caleb King behind the line late in the second quarter and did the same to walk-on Alex Parsons midway through the third.
"That was not the first time this spring," King said. "It seemed like he was always the one to get me in the backfield. I told him before every scrimmage to be careful and to not hit me too hard. He's a great player who I think will wreak some havoc this season."
To maintain the top spot on the depth chart entering the Boise State opener, Geathers will have to fend off junior college transfer Jonathan Jenkins. Geathers said the looming challenge has motivated him this spring, and Richt believes a fire definitely has been lit.
"Kwame has done some really good things and has gotten himself in good condition," Richt said. "Not only has he made people double-team him, which frees up a linebacker and is the main job of a noseguard, but as you saw today, he can come through the line of scrimmage and make plays on his own behind the line."
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Derrick Lott accounted for the first points of G-Day when his down-by-contact sack of Murray in the end zone gave the Red team a 2-0 lead. Blair Walsh connected on a 43-yard field goal late in the first quarter for the Black, but a 33-yarder by Brian Bogotay in the second quarter put the Red up 5-3 at halftime.
Murray completed 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, while Hutson Mason went 8-of-16 for 109 yards for the Red and was intercepted once. Thomas led all rushers with 48 yards on 13 carries but fumbled twice.
"I think the draft brought a lot of excitement to the game," Jones said. "It was interesting to try something different, and I think it worked out well."