7:30 PM ET, September 15, 2012
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
ATHENS, Ga. -- For Aaron Murray, the individual records are just a bonus.
The Georgia quarterback has his sights on a title.
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With more than 700 yards of offense and big plays from all levels of the depth chart, the Georgia Bulldogs won easily to improve to 3-0, writes David Ching. Story
Murray passed for a career-best 342 yards and accounted for four touchdowns -- two passing, two rushing -- to lead the No. 7 Bulldogs back from another slow start for a 56-20 rout of Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
The gaudy numbers are nice, but not essential.
"The best legacy you can leave is winning games and winning championships," Murray said. "I want to be known for that -- not just for throwing touchdowns and having a good game here and there. I want to be known as a consistent quarterback and a quarterback who led Georgia to some championships."
Playing without Jarvis Jones and two other defensive starters, the Bulldogs (3-0) struggled in the first half to slow a Florida Atlantic team that scored a single touchdown against lower-division Wagner. The 44-point underdog Owls kept converting third downs and found themselves tied at 14 early in the second quarter.
But Georgia simply had too many weapons for Florida Atlantic (1-2), piling up a school-record 713 yards. Murray completed 14 of 19, including a 67-yard touchdown to Michael Bennett and a 36-yarder to Arthur Lynch. Murray scored himself on a pair of 1-yard sneaks.
Murray, a fourth-year junior, eclipsed his previous high passing game, a 326-yard effort last season against Vanderbilt. He now has 67 touchdown passes in his career, pulling even with Eric Zeier for second place in the school rankings and only five behind the leader, David Greene.
"Aaron was on fire," said Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "He was very sharp. He hit all his targets. He just threw the ball extremely well. ... It was good to see him start fast. We needed him to start fast."
Both of Georgia's freshmen running backs went over 100 yards on the ground. Todd Gurley ran for 111 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that finally turned the game into the expected rout. Keith Marshall had 104 yards and a TD.
"Opposing teams can't game plan against one facet of our game," Marshall said. "They have to focus on everything."
Florida Atlantic matched Georgia score for score in the early going.
"We came out pretty sharp," said Wilbert, who finished 18 of 33 for 183 yards. "We really played well against a good SEC team."
It didn't last.
Marshall carried it five times for 57 yards on a 67-yard drive that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay. He nearly scored his second TD, but was tripped up about a half-yard from the end zone. Murray finished it off with a sneak.
Getting it back against with 2½ minutes left in the half, Georgia quickly struck for another score that provided some breathing room. Murray was sacked, but a slap to the face by Kayvon Sherrill resulted in a 15-yard penalty. After the Bulldogs were penalized for an illegal formation, Murray found Bennett streaking open down the middle of the field, hitting him in stride for the score that made it 28-14.
Georgia put the game away in the first 5 minutes of the second half.
After receiving the kickoff, the Bulldogs needed only six plays to go 85 yards, Lynch hauling in a touchdown pass that was initially ruled out of bounds at the 2. After looking at the replay, the video official ruled that Lynch's knee didn't go down until he stretched out to clip the pylon.
Florida Atlantic punted it away after three straight incompletions, and Murray quickly hooked up with Tavarres King on a 25-yard pass to get the Bulldogs rolling again. Gurley capped another lightning-quick drive with his long TD run.
The only blemish on Murray's line was an interception in the end zone when he should have thrown the ball away. But, in the very next play, Amario Herrera stepped in front of Wilbert's pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Georgia also struggled in the opening half of its first two games, giving up 16 points to lowly Buffalo and trailing Missouri 10-9 at halftime. But the Bulldogs sure know how to finish, outscoring their opponents by a combined 81-23 over the final two quarters.
Jones, who had a brilliant game against Missouri, was in uniform and came out for the coin toss as one of Georgia's captains. But that was his only action, the Bulldogs deciding to give him the night off to rest a nagging groin injury with a stretch of seven straight Southeastern Conference games beginning next week.
Freshman Jordan Jenkins, who started in Jones' place, had three tackles and broke up a pass.
"Jarvis couldn't have gone tonight and been productive, and you definitely don't want something to linger," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We just felt like the best thing to do was play the new guys, play the freshmen. As we move forward, that will give us a chance to give Jarvis a breather.
Defensive back Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser returned from suspensions, but All-American safety Bacarri Rambo and starting linebacker Alec Ogletree remained on the sideline. Coach Mark Richt hasn't indicated when either will be cleared to play.
Before the game, Georgia introduced the newest in its line of famous canine mascots. Russ, an 8-year-old bulldog, rode on the field in red golf cart and was presented his collar by university president Michael Adams.
With that, the pooch became Uga IX.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Georgia scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter to end any thought of an upset.
Gameball goes to... Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The freshmen both rushed for more than 100 yards.
Stat of the game... 713. The defense was off but Georgia rolled up 713 yards of total offense in the victory.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-19||5-9|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|TD||07:25||Aaron Murray 1 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||0||7|
|TD||02:30||Damian Fortner 43 Yd Run (Vinny Zaccario Kick)||7||7|
|TD||01:11||Keith Marshall 2 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||7||14|
|TD||12:19||Nexon Dorvilus 2 Yd Pass From Graham Wilbert (Vinny Zaccario Kick)||14||14|
|TD||06:29||Aaron Murray 1 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||21|
|TD||01:34||Michael Bennett 67 Yd Pass From Aaron Murray (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||28|
|TD||12:40||Arthur Lynch 36 Yd Pass From Aaron Murray (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||35|
|TD||10:18||Todd Gurley 38 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||42|
|TD||04:06||Amarlo Herrera 35 Yd Interception Return (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||49|
|TD||12:34||Christian LeMay 1 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||14||56|
|TD||10:11||Adarius Glanton 42 Yd Interception Return (Pat Blocked)||20||56|