Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason wasn’t getting much playing time for Georgia, and he likely wouldn’t as long as Aaron Murray was setting records for the Bulldogs.
But Mason said the chance to one day do something big for the Bulldogs is what tugged at him to stay in Athens. That moment finally came Saturday at Georgia Tech.
Mason, making his first collegiate start after Murray tore a knee ligament in Georgia’s previous game, helped rally the Bulldogs to a 41-34 victory in double overtime at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday night.
“This is what it’s about,” Mason said. “All those times when I thought about transferring, sitting and talking with coach (Mark) Richt in his office, these type of games are the kind of games that you dream of being a part of. I’m just so thankful. I’m thankful for the Lord and all the blessings and these opportunities he’s given me.
“I’m just glad to be a ‘Dawg.’”
The Bulldogs are glad Mason is still around, too.
Mason struggled as the Bulldogs fell behind 20-0. But then the fourth-year junior settled down and led Georgia’s offense to 27 points in regulation.
Mason had appeared in eight games, but never was he asked to lead the Bulldogs to victory. He did it on his first try under trying circumstances: filling in for Murray on the road against Georgia’s chief rival.
“It’s one of those things (with) being in a big crowd and a big environment for the first time,” Mason said. “Once I started slinging it and completing some passes, I got comfortable and started trusting guys. But it’s hard to go in on your first game into an opponent’s stadium and stay composed.”
Mason finished with 299 yards on 22-of-36 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. The circumstances made the performance impressive, but Mason’s big game also was a reminder that he was a big-time recruit at Lassiter High in Cobb County.
Mason appeared tentative at the start of the game. He said he wasn’t trusting his pass protection and was kind of “leading myself into my own sacks” because he was jittery in the pocket. Tech turned his first-quarter interception into a touchdown that extended its lead to 17-0.
The Bulldogs were down 20-0 with less than two minutes before halftime when they finally got on track. Georgia capped a seven-play, 86-yard drive with Mason’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Todd Gurley.
On that drive Mason completed all five pass attempts for 62 yards and also ran 16 yards to earn a first-and-goal at Tech’s 8-yard line.
“Really all we needed was that one touchdown, put it on the board and just calm all the nerves,” Mason said. “I think you saw after we scored that touchdown we just rolled.”