The talk entering Saturday night’s game against Georgia Tech was all about Hutson Mason getting his first start at quarterback for Georgia. Turns out, the tailback the Bulldogs had all along ended up making the biggest difference.
Tailback Todd Gurley has had some bigger nights statistically. But the sophomore has not made a bigger impact than he did in the second half of the Bulldogs’ 41-34 win in double overtime Saturday.
Gurley gained all 50 of Georgia’s offensive yards and scored both touchdowns in the two overtime periods as the Bulldogs scored the come-from-behind victory. He had but 36 yards rushing through the first three quarters, but finished with 122. He added four catches for 36 yards and finished with four touchdowns
“We basically told them just get a hat on a hat, and (the running backs) will take care of the rest,” Gurley said. “That’s what I wanted. Coach B-Mac (Bryan McClendon) asked me if I wanted the ball, and I told him I wanted it. I just had to do what I had to do.”
Most of Gurley’s good work came after intermission, but his best individual play came in the first half. A week after scoring on a highlight-reel dive against Kentucky, Gurley may have topped it — literally — on a 9-yard touchdown catch with 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Gurley caught a pass in the right flat and, leaving the ground about the 4-yard line, jumped high in the air over a defender and landing out of bounds while jutting the ball just inside of the pylon.
That it came a week after Gurley said he wasn’t going to dive for the end zone anymore — “the landing is the problem,” he said — Gurley executed an even better one.
“That was like a jump right there,” Gurley said. “I don’t consider it as a dive.”
Another OT win: The Bulldogs are now 6-4 in overtime games. Earlier this season, Georgia posted a 34-31 win in overtime at Tennessee. The only overtime game in this series came in 1999, Tech posted a 51-48 win in Atlanta.
The 20-point comeback was the largest in the Richt era and third biggest in school history since falling behind a record 25-0 against No. 19 Purdue in the 2000 Outback Bowl in Tampa. Georgia rallied for a 28-25 overtime win against the Boilermakers. Georgia did not have a lead Saturday until the second overtime and trailed 20-0 with 6:33 left in the 2nd quarter today.
Before Saturday, the largest deficit erased in a win under Richt came in the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl when the Bulldogs fell behind 21-3 at halftime to No. 14 Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs eventually posted a 31-24 win. Georgia also wiped out a 20-point deficit this season at No. 7 Auburn, but lost on a 73-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds to play.
Georgia also trailed Tech 20-0 in the second quarter in Athens in 1978 and came back to post a 29-28 win.
Injury update: It was a tough night for Georgia on the injury front. Starting free safety Tray Matthews did not travel and missed a game for the fifth time this season because of a chronic hamstring injury. Matthews played in the past three games after missing the four previous, but came out in the second half against Kentucky last week. Freshman Quincy Mauger started in his absence.
Mauger went out with a knee injury with about six minutes remaining in regulation. He was on crutches after the game, but Richt was not sure how serious the injury was. With both Mauger and Matthews out, Georgia had to play junior Corey Moore, who was questionable for the game because of a knee injury suffered in practice this past week.
Meanwhile, senior lineman and defensive captain Garrison Smith went out with a left ankle injury early in the second half. After the game Smith said he expects to return for Georgia’s bowl game.
Also starting cornerback Shaq Wiggins also missed the game because of a concussion. He was replaced in the lineup by sophomore Sheldon Dawson, who was beaten deep by Darren Waller on a 68-yard pass play on Tech’s first possession of the game.
Murray tunes in: Sidelined quarterback Aaron Murray did not travel with the Bulldogs to Atlanta for Saturday’s game. He stayed in Athens and watched the game on television at home with his sister, Stephanie, according to their mother, Lauren Murray.
Murray, who lost for the season to a torn ACL last week against Kentucky, sent out a tweet via his Twitter account, @AaronMurray11, a couple of hours before the game: “The @HMason14 era at Georgia has begun. Couldn’t be more proud of this guy. Excited to see what he is about to do! #GoDawgs.”