ATLANTA —In a regular season filled with down-to-the-wire games and drama on top of drama, it made all the sense in the world that Georgia needed to go to double overtime with in-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday to end it and leave with a 41-34 win.
“Man, just the fashion it was in, can you win a game in more dramatic fashion?” asked Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason. “I don’t think you can, it’s incredible.”
Excuse Mason for forgetting about that gut-punch of a loss at Auburn two weeks earlier since he never left the sideline, but the biggest comeback win – 20 points – in coach Mark Richt’s 13 seasons and third biggest in
program history certainly will be savored.
This was Mason’s debut as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback for injured Southeastern Conference record-holder Aaron Murray and he had to rally Georgia from 20-0 and 27-17 deficits, but didn’t need to throw a pass after regulation.
Tailback Todd Gurley was the difference maker, scoring on touchdown runs of 6 and 25 yards in overtime. He took an inside handoff, cut back and raced to the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the game for the winning points.
That left Georgia Tech, which scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Vad Lee in the first overtime period, needing to answer. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd snuffed out a third-down pitch to Robert Godhigh for a three-yard loss.
On fourth-and-5 at the 6, Lee pass to the end zone to Robert Waller was deflected by linebacker Ramik Wilson and cornerback Damian Swann and fell incomplete.
“I just waited,” Richt of what crossed his mind before the final pass hit the ground. “I just waited until it hit the ground. When the official gave the signal incomplete, that’s when I could breathe a sigh of relief.”
The Bulldogs saw Auburn win on a fourth-and-18, deflected 73-yard touchdown after Georgia came back from down 20 in that game, too.
Not this time.
“Just glad that the ball fell down,” Wilson said.
“Another fourth down play,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “This time we won it.”
Georgia players celebrated with fans in the corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium as the Bulldogs won for the 12th time in the past 13 in the series.
Georgia (8-4) bounced back with a pair of wins after the Auburn heartbreak. Georgia Tech (7-5) lost despite a career-high 299 passing yards and two touchdown passes from Lee. The triple-option run wasn’t what hurt Georgia, but Lee completing four of his first five passes for 155 yards.
Next up is a likely trip to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., perhaps against Iowa.
An official announcement isn’t expected until next Sunday, but indications are that the Bulldogs are in good position to play in the Jan. 1 game, with the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta an outside possibility.
Gurley would be a top attraction.
He rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
on 20 carries and had four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Gurley rushed for 50 yards on four carries in overtime.
“We challenged Todd, we challenged the line,” Richt said. “We decided we were just going to run our bread and butter plays, plays that we believe in the most and just see what would happen. …It just happened where we hit it and they were in a pressure, they were in a blitz and thankfully we got the ball handed off and ran it up the gut.”
Gurley said of his second touchdown run in overtime: “I just wanted the linemen to get a hat on a hat and be patient with the run and let it develop.”
Georgia began the game with three punts and an interception on its first four possessions and didn’t get on the scoreboard until Gurley scored on a 9-yard pass from Mason with 34 seconds left in the first half.
Mason, a fourth-year junior who came in for Murray when he tore the ACL in his left knee last week against Kentucky, bounced back to finish 22 of 36 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“The first half definitely wasn’t pretty,” said Mason, sacked five times, “but we kept fighting and we came back and stuck together.”