January 1, 2013

Capital win for Dawgs

ORLANDO, Fla. - It's not how you start, but how you finish.

Take Tuesday's Capital One Bowl, which saw fifth-ranked Georgia shake off a poor start to roll past No. 21 Nebraska, 45-31.

The victory allowed Georgia (12-2) to snap a two-year bowl losing streak, and in the process win 12 games for just the third time in the 120-year history of the Bulldog program.

If you liked offense, this was the game for you.

Georgia piled up a Capital One Bowl record 591 yards of offense, led by quarterback Aaron Murray who completed 18 of 33 passes for 427 yards and five touchdowns to earn game MVP honors.

Running back ToddGurley chipped in with 23 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, while wide receiver Chris Conley only caught two passes but both went for touchdowns on scores of 49 and 87 yards.

Rex Burkhead led Nebraska (10-4) with 24 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown while catching four passes for 39 yards and another touchdown.

Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez completed 19 of 27 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice, both by Damian Swann.

The afternoon didn't start out so well for the Bulldogs.

Trailing 24-23 at the half, Nebraska took the third-quarter kickoff and promptly drove 75 yards for a score, capped off by Burhkead's second touchdown on a 2-yard run.

Georgia answered back to tie, with Murray hooking up with Conley on a 49-yard pass before a two-point pass to Rhett McGowan tied the game at 31.

Following an exchange of possessions, Georgia finally went back ahead 38-31 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Keith Marshall reached behind him to haul in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Murray.

Apparently, the score gave the Bulldogs' defense a boost as well it forced its third straight punt giving the offense another opportunity.

It didn't take for Georgia to put it to good use as on the third play, Murray threw a quick slant to Conley went raced untouched down the middle of the field for an 87-yard touchdown, the Bulldogs' longest ever in a bowl.

If you happened to blink at any point during the first half there's a good chance you would have missed something.

It was that crazy as Nebraska went into half with a 24-23 lead as the two teams combined for 546 yards.

Murray accounted for 195 of that, completing 11 of 23 passes but threw a pair of interceptions, including one that linebacker Will Compton returned for a 24-yard score late in the first quarter to put the Huskers in front 14-9.

Georgia responded on its very next play when Murray hooked up with Tavarres King on a 75-yard touchdown before a 24-yard run by Gurley out of the Wildcat pushed the Bulldogs' lead back to nine at 23-14.

But back came Nebraska, first getting a 39-yard field goal from Brett Maher followed by a 16-yard pass from Taylor Martinez to Burkhead with 4:43 left to give the Huskers their one-point half lead.

The game started familiar enough as bowls go for Georgia as the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead thanks to a safety on a blocked punt by Shawn Williams.

Georgia should have scored six.

There was nobody at all around Justin Scott-Wesley when he attempted to pounce on the ball in the Nebraska only to have it bounce away, deflecting off a couple of other Bulldogs before trickling out of bounds.

After taking the ensuing kick, Georgia put together an 80-yard drive, capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Murray to a wide-open Arthur Lynch before Nebraska responded with a 75-yard drive of its own with Martinez hitting Jamal Turner with a 14-yard touchdown pass to draw within 9-6.

Despite all of Georgia's first-half issues, it did turn into a record-breaking one for linebacker Jarvis Jones who was credited with a sack of Martinez after an intentional grounding call, enabling him to set the Bulldogs' new single-season mark with 14.5, breaking the old record of13.5 held by David Pollack.