North Texas Mean Green running back Brandin Byrd (24) is tackled by Georgia Bulldogs safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) and nose tackle Chris Mayes (93) during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports: Dale Zanine)
ATHENS — The Mean Green put a scare into the Bulldogs before Georgia regrouped late in third quarter to take care of North Texas getting the 45-21 win at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
“This was a big game,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “I wasn’t kidding when I was trying to explain to everyone that this is a good football team. The only thing I saw different was an inch or two in height. These guys are really good players and they are well coached. They gave us one heck of a game.”
North Texas (2-2) came in and threw the ball against Georgia (2-1) gaining 238 passing yards. The Bulldogs defense however refused to allow them to run the ball. North Texas was held to minus-two rushing yards in the first half and seven yards for the game.
The Bulldogs improved their home record to 35-1 against non-conference opponents under head coach Mark Richt.
The game saw a little bit of everything including a milestone by Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who was 22-30-1 for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns, and a new record were set in the same play.
Murray completed his 100th passing touchdown to reach a milestone on a 98-yard pass to freshman Reggie Davis to set a new record for longest touchdown completion.
“I was hoping that he would call this play” Murray said. “He (Davis) has blazing speed. I was trying not to over throw him. But he ran under it. I think that was his first reception of his career so that was pretty sweet.
“To get 100 is a tribute to Aaron, but it’s also due to a lot of reveivers, a lot of pass blockers and a lot of coaching,” Richt said of Murray’s 100th touchdown pass. “He deserves the credit, but it takes the team to get that done.”
The Bulldogs had 641 yards of total offense with 450 coming in the air and 191 from the ground game.
The Bulldogs also put some trickery into their arsenal as flanker Rantavious Wooten threw a 42-yard pass to Arthur Lynch on a backward’s pass from Murray to Wooten.
However, not all highlights belonged to the Bulldogs. North Texas tied a record for the longest kickoff returned for a touchdown as Brelan Chancellor returned Marshall Morgan’s kickoff 99 yards in the second quarter to make it 21-14.
North Texas gave the Bulldogs all they could handle early in the first quarter. The Mean Green stopped Georgia in their first two possessions including a Murray interception by Will Wright in the endzone as Georgia was looking at second and goal from the 2-yard line.
“That was a bad play by me. I had a tight window and didn’t see the guy. It just was not smart on my part,” Murray said.To
But Georgia recovered and taking their next drive 69 yards in six plays resulting in a 12-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley with 3:41 remaining in the opening period. Gurley led Georgia’s running game with 94 yards on 21 attempts and a touchdown.
The Mean Green showed that they were not intimidated by the Bulldogs marching the ball 86 yards in 10 plays ending in a 20-yard touchdown reception by Darnell Smith by Derek Thompson midway through the second quarter to make it 14-7.
North Texas’ ability to stay with Georgia showed with a punt blocked after being stopped on their first possession of the second half. The Mean Green’s Marcus Trice blocked the punt allowing Zac Whitfield to scoop it up in the endzone for the game-tying score.
After North Texas scored on the blocked punt less than a minute into the second half, Georgia scored on a one-yard dive by Murray and four-yard pass from Murray to Chris Conley to put the Bulldogs up 35-21.
The Bulldogs held the lead at halftime, 21-14, before outscoring North Texas 21-7 in the second half for the win.