The No. 13 Georgia football team took a 44-17 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in front of 92,746 fans and a SEC Network televised audience on Saturday, Oct. 4 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 4-1 overall that includes a 2-1 mark in the Southeastern Conference play. Vanderbilt dropped to 1-5 on the year and 0-4 in league play.
Hutson Mason finished with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-17 passing. Chris Conley was his top target in the end zone, catching both of Mason’s touchdown passes. Jeb Blazevich finished with 86 yards on three catches. Todd Gurley led Georgia’s rushing attack, finishing with 163 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches. He also had 24 receiving yards and completed a 50-yard pass. Nick Chubb finished with 78 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Amarlo Herrera finished with a team-best nine tackles, including four solo stops. Jordan Jenkins added seven tackles, two of which were solo. Leonard Floyd had four tackles, including one sack. Devin Bowman produced the lone turnover of the game, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to take the lead, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on the opening drive. The seven-play, 62-yard drive took 2:16 and was capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Gurley. The drive was highlighted by a 12-yard pickup by Gurley and a 20-yard reception by Blazevich.
Georgia made it a 14-0 game with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. After a 16-yard completion to Blazevich gave Georgia a first down at the Vanderbilt 45 yard line, Gurley took a screen pass for 15 yards before rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown on consecutive carries. With the 14-yard touchdown run, Gurley became just the fourth player in Georgia history to rush for at least 3,000 yards.
After forcing Vanderbilt to go three-and-out, the Bulldogs took over at the Vanderbilt 44 yard line with 1:34 left in the first quarter. On the first play of the drive, Mason found Chris Conley in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown that put the Bulldogs up 21-0.
The Commodores got on the board with 6:49 left in the first half. Stephen Rivers led the team on a seven-play, 66-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Ralph Webb that made it a 21-7 game.
Two drives later, the Bulldogs put together an 80-yard touchdown drive. The drive was kickstarted by a 50-yard, left-handed pass from Gurley to Blazevich that set Georgia up with 1st-and-10 at the Vanderbilt 27. After a nine-yard run, Mason and Conley connected for their second touchdown of the day that sent the Bulldogs into the locker room holding a 27-7 lead.
On the opening drive of the second half, Vanderbilt intercepted a Mason pass and returned it 35 yards to the Georgia 24. The Bulldogs held the Commodores to a 34-yard field goal that made it a 27-10 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
Vanderbilt looked poised to answer on the ensuing drive, moving the ball down to the Georgia 29 before Bowman picked off Rivers and returned the interception 63 yards for the touchdown that put Georgia up 34-10. It was the first interception return for a touchdown of the season.
The Bulldogs added a field goal with 12:02 left in the game that brought the score to 37-10. Gurley accounted for every yard of the drive, before Marshall Morgan connected on a 22-yard field goal.
The Commodores responded with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that cut the Georgia lead to 37-17 with 5:46 left in the game.
Vanderbilt got the ball back with just under four minutes to play, but went three-and-out, giving the offense another opportunity. Chubb carried much of the load in the final drive, tallying 59 yards on three carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run that put the score at 44-17 with 28 seconds left in the game.
Georgia takes to the road next Saturday, Oct. 11, when it travels to Columbia, Mo., to take on the No. 24 Missouri Tigers. A game time has not been announced.
Homecoming Victory: Georgia cruised to a 44-17 Homecoming victory over Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs came in ranked second in the SEC and eighth nationally in scoring at 45.2 points a game. The offense tallied 445 yards today. The Bulldogs are now 74-17-2 on Homecoming including winning their last eight on Homecoming. In the series with VU, Georgia now leads 54-19-2.
Gurley Gets Going: Junior TB Todd Gurley finished with 25 carries for 163 yards (17th career 100-yard game) and two touchdowns and completed his first pass attempt. His first score came on a 5 yarder at the 11:11 mark in the first quarter. Gurley tallied his second touchdown of the game on a 14 yarder to put Georgia up 14-0 at the 2:51 mark in the first quarter. This marks Gurley’s 43rd overall touchdown of his career and his 35th rushing touchdown. Gurley is now one of only four Bulldogs to have 3,000+ yards rushing in his career with 3,147, joining Herschel Walker-5,259, Garrison Hearst-3,232 and Lars Tate-3,017).
Gurley also recorded his first career pass completion (longest of the year for the Bulldogs) with a 50-yard pass to freshman TE Jeb Blazevich. The completion led to Georgia’s final touchdown of the half, which was a 5-yard score to senior receiver Chris Conley. Conley finished with two catches for 49 yards and two TDs. Conley is now in the school’s all-time top-10 list with 14 career touchdown receptions. However, junior PK Marshall Morgan had his PAT blocked after the score. Gurley has the longest kickoff return (100) and longest completion (50) for the Bulldogs this year.
INT To The House: Junior CB Devin Bowman returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown to put Georgia up 34-10 in the third quarter. This was the first pick of his career and the first INT returned for a touchdown for the Bulldogs since Shaq Wiggins ran one back versus the Commodores last year. This is also the second straight week Georgia’s defense has scored a touchdown after DE Josh Dawson recovered a fumble in the end zone last week versus Tennessee.
Bowman started and wore No. 19 rather than his regular No. 37 in honor of freshman CB Rico Johnson. Johnson was medically disqualified this week after experiencing some neurological symptoms. Senior Amarlo Herrera led the Bulldogs in tackles with nine stops.
Quick Strike: On one play, senior QB Hutson Mason connected with Conley for a 44-yard touchdown strike to go up 21-0. This was the Bulldogs’ third one-play touchdown drive of the year and the quickest at nine seconds. It was also Conley’s first touchdown grab of the year and Mason’s sixth of the season. Mason went 11-for-17 for 121 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
Points Off Turnovers: Georgia now holds a +4 turnover margin on the year and has converted its eight recovered turnovers into 24 points. Opponents have scored three points off four Bulldog miscues. Mason threw his third pick of the year in the third quarter in Georgia territory. The Commodores kicked a 34-yard field goal after running six plays for seven yards. Georgia junior Devin Bowman returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Starters: Josh Dawson started his first game of the season and second of his career. Senior C David Andrews made his team-leading 32nd consecutive start. Junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell played for the first time this season after returning from a preseason knee injury. Mitchell had an 11-yard catch. Sophomore Brendan Langley, who started four games at CB last year, played in the fourth quarter as a defensive back. Langley switched to receiver in the offseason, however the Bulldogs have several players in the secondary sidelined due to injury.
Captains: The captains were David Andrews, Todd Gurley, Jordan Jenkins and Damian Swann.
Homecoming King, Queen Crowned: Georgia’s 2014 Homecoming King and Queen were senior Colton Fowlkes from Cumming, Ga., and senior Megan Ernst from Atlanta, Ga.
On Deck: The #12 Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 SEC) hit the road to Columbia, Mo., next weekend to face #24 Missouri (4-1, 1-0). The Tigers were off this weekend.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt
“There’s no doubt, victory is great. It sure beats losing. The guys did play hard. Defensively, we were outstanding most of the day. On offense, we ran the ball well and we threw and caught better. We had more balance in the attack today. To me, balance is if they pack the box being able to throw to get them out or when there’s double coverage being able to run well enough to get them out. Are we there yet? I don’t know. We hit the deep ball for a touchdown, which was nice, and we need to keep stretching the field. We need to make sure defenders know we can go deep if we need to and throw and catch if we need to.”
“Our special teams were good and not so good. I was disappointed how we punted today. We’re better than that. We need to work on that consistency. At practice, we’re ooh and aah, but we struggle in the game. We need to do a better job of punting like we do in practice.”
“A lot of freshmen have come in and helped us. You see a lot more high school kids being 1-sport guys and practicing their trade year-round now. By the time they get here, they are ready to help us.”
“Hutson (Mason) practiced well this week. We made a conscious decision to get Brice (Ramsey) in the game early on, so everyone knew that going in. Other than the pick, I thought Hutson played extremely well today. For Brice, there’s nothing like a game. You can practice all you want, but you can’t simulate the feeling of a game. It was good he got a couple of snaps under his belt. He missed a couple of passes high, but he’s got to get used to the sensation of being out there.”
“Todd (Gurley) is a big, physical guy. As the game wears on, he’s in good enough condition where tired tacklers struggle to get him on the ground. And the linemen see that and they get excited to block in the third and fourth quarter.”
“We’re improving in a lot of areas. Defensively, we’re getting closer to communicating the things we need to do and we’re executing better. We’re getting more reps and more confidence. We’ve got a chance to keep improving as a football team. If we do that, we’ve got a chance to get back to Atlanta.”
“Missouri won the East last year, they’ve had this week off and an extra week to prepare for us, and they’re at home (next Saturday). I’m not sure what else they could be looking for right now.”
DB Damian Swann
On today’s game…
“This is a great victory and a good momentum builder for us. Now it’s just time for us to go and start getting ready for Missouri next week.”
On Devin Bowman’s play today…
“He played big for us. That pick-six was a huge play and it changed the momentum for us. I think Bowman has really developed into someone that we can depend on a lot down the road.”
CB Devin Bowman
On wearing Rico Johnson’s No. 19…
“I wanted to wear his number because he’s my friend and my teammate. He and I are really close and I just wanted to surprise him. I think I honored him today.”
On how the secondary is playing right now…
“I think we’re going up every day and getting better every game. We’re putting in a lot of work and doing our best to get better each day. We’ll have to see where we’re at next week.”
QB Hutson Mason
On the game…
“I thought this was probably one of our better performances of the year in the passing game. I had to kind of sit down and gut check myself this week and see what I had to fix. It was something as simple as changing my mentality. I just needed to stop trying to be somebody that I’m really not. I’m one of those guys that performs better by trying to keep it simple and that’s what I tried to do. I wanted to come out and make it as simple as possible.”
On building a rhythm with his receivers tonight…
“I didn’t really think it was an issue today. I just had to o out and let it rip. I told myself all week in practice that if I saw guys get separation then I would just let it rip and that’s what I tried to do today.”
FLK Chris Conley
On this year’s team compared to last year’s team at this point in the season…
“This is a different team and a younger team. We’re trying to make progress every week. This is a younger team with a lot of talent. We just have to try and treat each week like a learning experience and get better.”
On getting the first SEC win of the season…
“We feel great about what we’re doing. We feel good that we’re getting better each week. In order to get back (to the SEC Championship) we have to get better each week and that starts in practice. We got some good film today and we just need to keep working and getting better.”
Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason
On the game…
“This was a tough football game and tough loss. Georgia is a good football team and Todd Gurley is a good back. They did a good job of establishing themselves early and we didn’t do a good job of getting ourselves off the field. They established the tempo and put together a couple of long drive that ended in touchdowns. I thought we did some good things in this game. I thought we showed the ability to have long drives, but weren’t able to finish those drives. ”
On the late turnover…
“We had a costly turnover late in the ball game. We had a little bit of momentum and then wrong play was called and you look up and the ball is going the other way. It was a bad play all the way around for us. I thought we were just starting to get our feet going and get some momentum.”
On the effort…
“It was disappointing to let that last touchdown get away from us. Tackling is an effort thing and we were late on guys and didn’t finish. That is disappointing and we have to get back and make sure we fight until the end. We didn’t have enough consistency all the way around, on offense and defense, to come in here between the hedges and get a win.”
TE Steven Scheu
On the pick-six being the wrong play call…
“We thought the play call was kind of funky. Once we heard it in the huddle guys were kind of looking around thinking that probably wasn’t the best call, but nobody stood up and said anything about it, unfortunately. It was just obviously the wrong play call against that sort of defense that they were running so that’s a tough break.”
On whether or not having to shuffle around QBs due to injury affects the play calling…
“It might, but honestly I think that’s just kind of an error that typically doesn’t happen regardless of who the quarterback is or how many reps they’ve been getting during the week. That typically just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately it did in this case, but typically it doesn’t.”
On whether or not he feels better about the team’s quarterback position going forward…
“We definitely made some strides and we have been making strides in the passing game. Unfortunately there’s no moral victories. We did improve today but a loss is a loss and it’s tough regardless of how you play.”
ILB Nigel Bowden
On how he felt the defense did containing Gurley…
“I feel like we didn’t start off good at first, but once we started going we got the feel for him. They did a good job switching the backs in and out so we had to change up for No. 27 [Nick Chubb] and then go back to Gurley, but I felt like we did a good job going against him and slowing him down.”
On how the defense was tricked by the Wildcat pass…
“On the Wildcat we were mostly expecting him [Gurley] to run, but they kind of just threw us off. Everybody was coming downhill, so they got us off-balance and got their tight end to go downhill.”
On giving up a touchdown right before the half…
“I feel like we just made small mistakes. That’s it. Not getting back, not tackling. But we’re getting better and better each week. We’ve just got to limit the mental mistakes.”
Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications