October 20, 2012

Too close for comfort

LEXINGTON, KY - Don't assume anything. If you're a fan of the Georgia football team, that's probably sage advice.

Saturday night's 29-24 win over the Wildcats is a good example why.

Although the victory put the 13th-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) in position to take the lead in the SEC East chase with a win next Saturday over Florida, the fact Georgia struggled so much against a Wildcat team which just last week was blown out by Arkansas 49-7, makes that seem like a unenviable task at best.

But thanks to Florida's 44-11 victory over the Gamecocks that handed South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) its second SEC loss, Georgia (6-1, 4-1) will have that opportunity if it can win the annual showdown in Jacksonville against the Gators (7-0, 5-0).

Georgia can certainly breathe a huge sigh of relief that it's getting a chance at all.

The Bulldogs trailed 17-16 until quarterback hit [db]Chris Conley with a 22-yard touchdown pass to put the Georgia up 22-17 with 5:01 left in the third.

Fortunately for Georgia there was more to come, as Murray threw for four touchdown and set a trio of records, including a new Bulldog career mark for scoring passes (75) while also establishing personal marks in completions (30) and yards (427).

Murray's big evening also meant huger numbers for wide receivers Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell who caught nine passes each for 188 and 103 yards, respectively.

But Kentucky wouldn't fold.

After Murray hit tight end Arthur Lynch with a 10-yarder to extend the margin to 29-17, the Wildcats answered, scoring again with 3:59 to play on a 2-yard run by Raymond Sanders.

Kentucky went for the onside kick, and appeared to be in position to recover the kick until Connor Norman cradled the ball to give the Bulldogs a first down at the Wildcat 45.

The Bulldogs were then able to run out the clock.

To the surprise of most everyone in Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky (1-7,0-5) did something it hadn't accomplished in over two years - score an offensive touchdown in the first quarter.

But that's exactly what happened against the Bulldogs.

After taking the opening kick, the Wildcats easily drove down the field, churning out 84 yards on 13 plays before quarterback Morgan Newton hit wide receiver Aaron Boyd with a quick 4-yard pass for a 7-0 lead. It marked the first opening quarter offensive touchdown for the Wildcats in their 20 games.

For Georgia, however, this was nothing new.

Even after Murray hooked up with King on a 66-yarder to tie the game, the Bulldogs' defense allowed the Wildcats to march down the field a second time.

This time, it took a throw-back pass from wide receiver Demarco Robinson to quarterback Jalen Whitlow for a 33-yard gain.

Amazingly, Kentucky converted the play after ball was actually tipped by John Jenkins before Whitlow pulled it down before being knocked down at the Bulldog 4. Two plays later, Newton strolled in from 2-yards out and a 14-7 lead.

The Murray-to-King connection worked again on Georgia's next possession, the 73rd career scoring pass for the Bulldog quarterback, which allowed him to pass Greene for the most in UGA history.

But instead of tying the game, the Bulldogs' botched another extra point, the fourth time that's happened this year as Marshall Morgan pushed his attempt wide.

Morgan was able to redeem himself on the final play of the half, but again, it wasn't pretty.

After driving 62 yards in the final 1:20, a last-ditch pass for a third touchdown missed its mark, bringing on Morgan who lined up from 27-yards out. Once again there was drama, as Morgan's kick bounced off the left up-right before falling through to put Georgia up 16-14 at the half.

Whatever momentum the Bulldogs might have had quickly evaporated in the third.

After taking the second-half kick, Georgia promptly went three and out after a trio of runs by Todd Gurley netted just nine yards before punting the football back to the Cats, who responded by driving 44 yards to take the lead on a 37-yard field goal by Craig McIntosh with 10:46 to go in the third.