Originally created 12/31/06

Taylor steals show, defensive award



ATLANTA - Tony Taylor marched toward the Georgia Dome tunnel clutching the Chick-fil-A Bowl defensive MVP trophy in his left hand and his helmet in his right after Georgia's 31-24 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

As became the norm this season, Taylor carried the defensive burden for Georgia.

Taylor's two interceptions were part of a quartet of fourth-quarter turnovers forced by the Bulldogs, and they were perhaps the biggest reasons Georgia left Atlanta this season with one of its most decisive second-half defensive performances.

"He's been doing that all year," senior defensive end Quentin Moses. "He's the team MVP. It was no different tonight."

Georgia intercepted Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon three times and forced a fumble in the final quarter, which charged Georgia's rally.

Defensive end Charles Johnson, who forced a fumble when he blind-sided Glennon deep in Virginia Tech territory, said the Bulldogs put the Hokies in a pinch.

"Turnovers like that will do a lot for you," Johnson said. "You cause turnovers, you win games."

Unlike last year's loss to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, Georgia stuffed Virginia Tech's offense in the second half. After scoring three touchdowns and piling up 130 yards before the half, the Hokies had just three points and 59 yards in the second half

"We came out killing ourselves," said Taylor, whose interceptions gave him seven this season, tops in the nation for linebackers.

"We kind of grasped it before it could get out of hand."

ON GEORGIA'S SIDE: Backup kicker Brian Mimbs' onside kick switched momentum.

Assistant coach Jon Fabris presented a scenario for Georgia coach Mark Richt before the game. Fabris suggested that if the Bulldogs faced a sizable deficit, an onside kick might be a good option.

"He said to me (Friday) night or even today ... you might use it if we're down 17-3 or something," Richt said. "That got stuck on my mind. I told the team at halftime, 'Men, when we score on this first drive, we're going to onside kick and grab the momentum back. '"

The onside kick worked to perfection, as Mimbs tapped the ball 10 yards and snatched it as he was falling to the turf. Georgia scored seven plays later.

UNDECLARED: Three Bulldogs underclassmen are non-committal about their future.

Junior cornerback Paul Oliver, tailback Danny Ware and defensive end Charles Johnson did not say whether they had played their last game for Georgia after the win.

Johnson, a projected first- or second-round pick in April's NFL Draft, said he will announce his intentions on Monday.

UPRIGHT: Brandon Coutu kicked field goals of 51, 39 and 22 yards. His 51-yarder was 4 yards shy of his season-long kick of 55 yards.