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Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) runs over TCU defender Niko Small for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)

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Georgia rallies in Liberty, runs past Horned Frogs, 31-23

MEMPHIS — Nick Chubb entered Friday's Liberty Bowl needing 4 yards to become Georgia's second all-time leading rusher and 12 yards to notch his second career 1,000-yard season.

Judging by the start of the game, neither seemed like a given.

Chubb did net 4 yards on his first three carries to move past Todd Gurley and become the top running back in Bulldogs history not named Herschel Walker. He had just 6 yards on five carries late in the second quarter before a 7-yard gain put him past 1,000 in a year that began with him continuing to rehab the three torn knee ligaments he suffered midway through the 2015 season at Tennessee.

"No matter who you play, it's always hard at the very beginning of the game," Chubb said, "because everyone is fresh, and everyone is into it and motivated. As an offense we struggled early, but nobody on our offense stopped. We kept pounding and trusting and believing in what we do, and eventually we started breaking some.

"After a while, nobody wants to keep tackling us."

Chubb followed up a 13-yard first half with a 129-yard second half, helping the Bulldogs power past TCU 31-23 to complete an 8-5 season. Junior classmate Sony Michel added 87 yards, including 58 in the second half, as Georgia wound up rushing for 248 yards and 5.6 yards per carry.

The two tailbacks combined to average 9.8 yards per carry during the second half after averaging 3.2 in the first.

"They brought the wide receiver down in the second half," TCU coach Gary Patterson said, "and we didn't do a very good job with the crack with the corner, and they were blocking our safety. It's as simple as that.

"If you look at our Kansas State and Oklahoma State games — people who have had tailback tandems — we just haven't handled that very well."

Chubb did not have a single lost-yardage rush in collecting his sixth 100-yard game of the season. He finishes his junior year with 1,130 yards and now has 3,424 for his career that technically spans just two and a half seasons.

Walker, however, needed only three regular seasons — bowl totals weren't used before 2002 — to compile 5,259 yards, and while that record may not fall, Chubb does recognize that being ahead of the likes of Gurley, Knowshon Moreno, Garrison Hearst and Rodney Hampton is an accomplishment in itself. Chubb, Moreno and Walker are the lone running backs in Bulldogs history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

"I never thought I would be right here where I am in this position," Chubb said. "There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into it, and not just myself but my teammates around me. My friends and family have given me lots of support, and I'm just thankful for that.

"Hopefully I can keep going and keep rolling."

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

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