Georgia got hit with another targeting penalty Saturday, but this one was not nearly as costly as the two were against Vanderbilt.
With 6:05 remaining in the second quarter, starting strong safety Corey Moore was flagged after his launching, shoulder-first tackle knocked the ball loose from Appalachian State’s Tony Washington. As the rule dictates, Moore was immediately disqualified from the game, and his ejection stood up after the standard video review.
Since the foul occurred in the first half of the game, Moore will not have to miss any time against Auburn next week. Had it happened in the second half, he would have had to sit out the first half.
Nobody in Georgia’s locker room was certain Moore should have been flagged on the play. But replays reveal that Moore definitely left his feet, and he caught a receiver in the shoulder and neck area as he reached up for the ball.
“You can say you need to lower your target all you want but, if you lower it too much as a DB you become at risk (for injury),” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “People need to realize that, too. So we’ll look at that, and we’ll make the corrections we need to as we move forward.”
With Moore out of the game, the Bulldogs turned to freshman Tray Matthews to fill in. Matthews, who started the first four games of the season at free safety, had not played in the last four games because of a hamstring injury. He played free safety Saturday, and freshman Quincy Mauger switched from free safety to strong safety.
Matthews finished with four tackles and a pass break-up and forced a fumble. Mauger also had four stops.
“He was definitely going to play some downs,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I thought he did well. He made the big play, causing the fumble. He’s a very talented guy, and the more he learns what to do and how to do it, to do things the Georgia way, he’s going to be a special player for us.”
Mason gets work: At long last, quarterback Hutson Mason saw some action. And this time it was real work, not handing the ball off four times on the last possession of the game, as he did in a 24-point win over North Texas earlier this season.
The junior played the entire fourth quarter for the Bulldogs, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo gave Mason the chance to let it rip. Mason attempted 16 passes, completing 11 for 160 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception.
“It could’ve gone better,” said Mason, who was playing in only the 10th game of his career. “I threw a couple of balls in the dirt and let a couple get away from me. But I can definitely build on it. I’m just happy to get those first-game emotions out of the way. It’s been so long you almost forget what it’s like to play football. … You forget what it’s like to play in Sanford Stadium in front of 90,000 people. So I can take that away from it.”
Rumph spotting: Jonathon Rumph, a junior college transfer, caught his first passes as a Bulldog. He caught four for 98 yards, all in the fourth quarter.
“It felt so good, man,” said Rumph, a 6-foot-5, 208-pound wide receiver. “I was just happy to be out there with my boys and be able to make some plays. When I get out there, I just feel like I’m at home. I just love football.”
Rumph played for the first time all season last week against Florida, but did not catch a pass. He missed the first seven games of the season with a partially torn hamstring.
Gurley ‘pretty good’: Tailback Todd Gurley was able to play into the third quarter and feels like he could have played longer. But the Bulldogs sat him after he aggravated his ankle injury. He finished with 87 total yards, including 75 rushing on 13 carries.
“I’m feeling pretty good, better than I thought I’d be feeling,” Gurley said. “I didn’t get as many plays as I wanted to. I felt like I could have played more.”
Injury report: Georgia had at least two players suffer injuries Saturday. Tight end Jay Rome left the game late with a right foot injury, and his status going forward is uncertain, according to Richt. The sophomore has been slowed all season with a left ankle injury. He was having to carry the load at tight end Saturday because Arthur Lynch sat out with bruised ribs. The Bulldogs are hopeful Lynch can return this week.
Also, defensive back Marc Deas suffered a leg injury when he collided with Brendan Douglas on an attempted onside kick by Appalachian State. His status also is unknown. Receiver Michael Bennett was shaken after catching Murray’s record-setting TD pass, but did not leave the game. He was unavailable for interviews afterward because he went with trainers back to the football complex for further evaluation.
Etc.: Linebacker Amarlo Herrera intercepted a pass with a little over 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter, but gave the ball back when he fumbled at the end of a 15-yard return. Georgia ended up minus-1 in turnover margin to fall to minus-7 for the season, which ranks 13th in the SEC. … Senior Rantavious Wooten caught four passes for a career-high 104 yards and a touchdown.