Texas Tech running back Byron Hanspard pushed the Georgia defense to the breaking point all night, but the Bulldogs' defensive unit never collapsed, keeping the team in the game until the offense could pull out a dramatic victory.
Hanspard exploded for 214 yards on 37 carries and scored both touchdowns for the Red Raiders. But Georgia's defense kept the junior tailback penned in in the middle of the game, surrendering 27 yards in the second quarter and just 16 in the third. Hanspard picked up 96 yards in the opening quarter and 75 in the fourth quarter, including a 47-yard touchdown scamper that gave Texas Tech a 12-7 lead with 12:16 to go.
So Georgia's defensive game plan became, in effect, to try to keep Hanspard contained, and force Red Raider quarterback Zebbie Lethridge to pass the ball.
"We thought from the start of the game, if we could get them to throw the ball, get the ball out of Byron's hands, we'd be in good shape," said Georgia safety Corey Johnson.
Linebacker Greg Bright said the defense tried to keep its focus in front of them, to forget about any big gains Hanspard may have picked up seconds before.
"We gave up a lot of yardage," Bright said. "But every time we did, we got back, lined up, and played that next play."
With the offense sputtering at times and Robert Edwards sitting out much of the game, the defense was called upon to keep the Bulldogs close, and they did that all night, especially in the middle quarters. But the defense really earned its collective scholarships at the end.
With 10:59 to go and Georgia clinging to a 7-6 lead, Texas Tech took over at its own 5-yard line after a spectacular punt by Dax Langley. Hanspard slowly and steadily led the way as the Red Raiders pounded forward. The first eight plays of the drive were runs, advancing Texas Tech up the field and eating up a good portion of the time on the game clock.
An 11-yard run by Hanspard, followed by a quick 4-yard burst, gave Texas Tech a third-and-6 on Georgia's 38-yard line. But as Lethridge drifted back to pass, a swarm of Georgia defenders led by linebacker Bryan Jones chased the quarterback down for a 14-yard loss. The ensuing punt with 2:57 to go pinned Georgia deep in its own territory and set the stage for the game-winning drive.
"I love pressure on us," Bright said. "I never had any doubt in our offense, I knew that they were going to come through, it was just a matter of time."
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