JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan was on a roll at EverBank Field.
Counting the Bulldogs’ past two regular-season games against the University of Florida, Morgan entered the fourth quarter of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Wednesday having made his last seven field-goal attempts at EverBank, and eight of his last nine. He was 3 of 3 against Florida earlier this season, was 1 of 2 in 2012 and made all four attempts, three in the second quarter, in the Gator Bowl.
But he never got another chance because Georgia coach Mark Richt decided the Bulldogs’ last two possessions of the game fell into four-down areas and went for it twice unsuccessfully on fourth down when Morgan could have had attempts 31 and 40 yards – certainly within his range.
As a result, the Bulldogs lost 24-19, breaking a three-game winning streak in Jacksonville.
Theoretically, the six points would have beaten Nebraska 25-24. But Richt played for the touchdown the first time, which meant he had to go for six points the second time.
His rationale: kicking the field goal on the first red-zone possession likely would have resulted in Nebraska getting better field position on a kickoff, rather than the Huskers taking over at the Dogs’ 14.
“I really didn’t think about kicking the field goals,” he said. “With the field goal, you’ve got to kickoff, cover it ... you take a risk. If we didn’t make it (the first time) we had them backed up pretty far and we could play good defense and (we would) have another shot at a touchdown.”
As far as Morgan goes, Richt said “he was pretty clutch.”
Morgan finishes his sophomore season by making 22 of 24 field-goal attempts.
Dooley’s farewell: Former Georgia football coach Vince Dooley coached his last college game in the 1989 Gator Bowl, when the Bulldogs beat Michigan State 34-27.
What Dooley likes to remind people is that he played his last college game in the 1954 Gator Bowl, when his Auburn Tigers were routed by Texas Tech 35-13.
Dooley rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown, on a 10-yard run. He also completed 4-of-8 passes for 49 yards and was named the losing team’s MVP.
“They don’t give that out any more, do they?” he asked.
Yes, they do.
Dooley said he has fond memories of the finish of Georgia’s Gator Bowl victory in 1989, but not of most of the game.
“I didn’t think I’d have any good memories because Michigan State had this guy named Rison,” he said, referring to Spartans’ wide receiver and future Jaguar Andre Rison, who caught nine passes for 252 yards, still a Gator Bowl record.
The Bulldogs finally outlasted the Spartans to send Dooley out a winner.
Bo knows winning: Nebraska fans who have wanted to run coach Bo Pelini out of Lincoln should perhaps dwell on this statistic: At 9-4, the Huskers join Alabama and Oregon as the only teams to win at least nine games in the last six seasons.
Nebraska has reached the nine-victory level 48 times in school history, 41 in the last 45.
The five-point victory over Georgia also gives Nebraska a nine-game winning streak in games decided by seven points or less, currently the longest streak in the nation.
Back to even: The Cornhuskers played in their 50th bowl game and evened the ledger by beating the Bulldogs. Nebraska is 25-25 in bowls and broke a three-game bowl losing streak.
Nebraska is 13-7 overall against SEC teams in bowl games, and 2-1 against Georgia.
Peilini is 4-3 as the Huskers coach in bowls.
The Bulldogs, who played in their 49th bowl game, are now 27-19-3, and 8-4 under Richt.
New look: With the conclusion of the game between Nebraska and Georgia, the Gator Bowl’s four-year deal matching a Big Ten team against an SEC team comes to a close. Next year begins a six-year deal in which the Gator will match an SEC team (chosen by the conference) against a Big Ten team in three of the years and an ACC team in the other three years.
The Gator Bowl will join a six-bowl pool of games with SEC ties, with commissioner Mike Slive making the final decision after input from the bowls and schools. Payout will no longer be a criteria for bowl selection.
Extra Points: Quincy Enunwa’s 129 yards receiving is the second-most in one game by a Nebraska wideout, behind the 138 by Johnny Mitchell in the 1991 Florida Citrus Bowl. ... Ameer Abdullah’s 122 yards gives him 11 100-yard rushing games for the season, tying a school record held by Mike Rozier, Lawrence Phillips and Ahman Green. ... Georgia has lost five or more games for the third time in the last five seasons.