Originally created 09/21/03

Bulldogs beaten on the bayou



BATON ROUGE, La. - Euphoria one moment. Total dejection the next.

Safety Sean Jones and his Georgia Bulldogs teammates experienced those emotions and little bit more during the final 4:25 of Saturday's Southeastern Conference showdown against 11th-ranked Louisiana State.

It was like nothing they had endured before.

Just moments after Tyson Browning took a screen pass 93-yards for a game-tying score, the Tigers roared back, getting a 34-yard touchdown pass from Matt Mauck to Skyler Green with 1:22 left to stun the Bulldogs 17-10 before a record Tiger Stadium crowd of 92,251 fans.

"The whole game we said that we were going to win the game because we never quit at Georgia," Jones said. "Today, they were the better team. It's a tough pill to swallow, but you have to move on because it's a long season."

After struggling offensively for virtually 55 minutes, the Bulldogs shocked the Tigers (4-0, 1-0) when quarterback David Greene dumped the football off to Browning who beat the coverage and raced down the left sideline to tie the game at 10-10 with 4:25 to play.

But in the midst of the celebration that was sweeping through the Georgia sideline, the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1) forgot one thing - to cover the ensuing kick.

Big mistake.

Devery Henderson beat Georgia's coverage and wasn't brought down until the reached the Tigers' 50-yard line after a 48-yard return.

Six plays later, Mauck found Green on a 34-yard post pattern on third-and-4 to go up 17-10 with 1:22 to go.

Greene and the Bulldogs did not give up.

After starting at the 15, Greene completed a pass of 24 yards to Damien Gary until a 3-yard run by Michael Cooper moved Georgia to the Tiger 43 with less than a minute to play.

That would be as close at the Bulldogs would get, however, as Greene was intercepted by Cory Webster allowing the Tigers to run out the clock.

"It wasn't a pretty game for us all the time, but you can't fault the effort," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "We'll enjoy this victory for 24 hours and then we need to focus on our next game."

The Tigers travel to Mississippi State on Saturday while Georgia takes the week off before playing Alabama at home Oct. 4.

LSU's victory was just its third over a top 25-ranked team in 15 attempts, while Georgia lost its first game at an opponent's home field in 10 games since Mark Richt became the Bulldogs coach three years ago.

Georgia dominated the game statistically, outgaining LSU in total yardage 411 to 285. But thanks to three missed field goals by Billy Bennett in the first half, and an offense which could only manage three points despite six trips inside the Tigers 50-yard line, Georgia ruined what otherwise might have been a Bulldogs victory.

The Bulldogs were also just 1-for-3 in red-zone opportunities, Bennett's 33-yard field goal in the first quarter being the only points.

"We certainly didn't execute as well as I would have liked us to execute," Richt said. "I worry about a team that doesn't have enough heart at the end of the ball game to fight, but that's not the problem with us. The problem tonight was that it just came down to us not making the plays that they made."

Especially, in the first half.

Four of Georgia's first-half drives actually at the 49 or better. At one point, the Bulldogs even ran 24 straight plays inside LSU territory, but could only come away with their three points.

Bennett was able to put Georgia on the board first, when he kicked a 33-yard field goal to cap the Bulldogs' second possession with 6:20 left in the first.

It was all downhill after that.

Georgia's next drive came to a sudden end when Greene fumbled at the LSU 8-yard line before Bennett missed the first of three field goals in the first half when his second attempt at a 44-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Moments earlier, Bennett drilled a 44-yard field goal, but off-setting penalties forced him to try again, without success.

Georgia's next two drives ended in disappointment as well, when Bennett missed a 42-yarder at the 11:25 mark in the second, and the third with less than a minute to play when a 36-yard attempt bounced off the left up-right.

"This reminded me of the South Carolina game a couple of years ago," Gary said of Georgia's first-half woes. "It was just frustration. We would get into the red zone and we just couldn't score. That was very frustrating."

The offense wasn't the only part of Georgia's game that missed out on scoring opportunities.

After Bennett's second miss, cornerback Tim Jennings stepped in front a third-down pass from Mauck at the Tiger 28 with nothing but grass in front of him. However, Jennings could not hang onto the football and LSU was able to punt.

The miss brought a sad end to a half that saw the Bulldogs pile up 225 yards of offense to 143 for LSU, which had only 58 yards until the Tigers put together a six-play, 85-yard drive to take a 7-3 lead.

Running back Shyrone Carey scored the touchdown for LSU with 2:08 play in the half. Ryan Gaudet's 47-yard field goal with 6:23 to play in the third rounded out the Tigers' scoring.

For the game, Greene completed 20 of 44 passes for 314 yards but also threw two interceptions, his first in 176 attempts dating back to last year.

Browning, who was playing his first game since coming off a three-game suspension, caught two passes for 104 yards, while Cooper ran for 73 of the Bulldogs' 97 rushing yards on 18 attempts.

Mauck completed 14 of 29 passes for LSU for 180 yards and the game-winning touchdown.