With diploma, Brown looks to school Hawaii

Associated Press
Senior tailback Thomas Brown rushed for 706 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season despite missing three contests with a broken collarbone.

NEW ORLEANS --- Thomas Brown is the serious one. This past semester, he hunkered down in the classroom to take a staggering 21 hours of courses, just so he could meet his goal of graduating in 31/2 years.

"The best day of my life," Brown said, diploma in hand.

Then there's Knowshon Moreno, who never looks too serious about anything until he gets a football in his hands. He's pinballing through life with joy and enthusiasm, an overgrown child refusing to sit still.

Together, they give Georgia one of the best running back duos in the nation, combining to put up nearly 2,000 yards on the ground -- not too shabby, considering Moreno started out as a third-stringer and Brown missed a quarter of the season with a shoulder injury.

Even though the Bulldogs (10-2) were passed over for a shot at the BCS championship and settled for a matchup against unbeaten Hawaii in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl, they might be playing as well as anyone -- largely because of those two guys lugging the ball.

Moreno, a redshirt freshman, rekindled memories of Herschel Walker by running for 1,273 yards and 12 touchdowns. Brown, a senior from suburban Atlanta, persevered through another disheartening injury to put up 706 yards and nine TDs.

While either would prefer to handle the bulk of the carries, they've settled into an effective job-sharing arrangement.

"One of the things we kind of focus on is Knowshon and myself staying fresh all four quarters," Brown said. "We like to roll in and out of there every five or six plays. That way, when we're deep in the fourth quarter and have to run extensively, we have a fresh set of legs like we did in the firth quarter."

Moreno's emergence was the biggest factor in Georgia's turnaround after losses to South Carolina and Tennessee threatened to wreck the season.

Another senior back, Kregg Lumpkin, broke a thumb in the opener, giving Moreno more carries right from the start. Then it was Brown, who made an amazing recovery from a season-ending knee injury in 2006, going down with a broken collarbone. He missed three games, pushing Moreno into a starting role.

When Lumpkin sustained a knee injury, Moreno became a one-man show for a few weeks. He rushed for 157 yards against Vanderbilt, 188 in a stirring win over defending national champion Florida, and 196 against Troy.

Brown returned for the final three games, making Georgia even tougher to stop. The tailback duo combined for 182 yards against Auburn and 197 against Kentucky. When Georgia Tech stepped up to halt Moreno's streak of five consecutive 100-yard games, Brown filled the void with 139 yards on 17 carries.

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