As of today, the
place between the hedges will be forever known as Dooley Field at
Sanford Stadium. Over 700 former players of Vince Dooley
showed up this weekend to honor their head coach. A pregame ceremony
with the captains of his 25 teams honored Vince, who became head
coach the week after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in
1963. Along with winning the 1980 national championship and six SEC
Championships, Dooley is responsible for the Georgia "G" logo. He
called a friend at the Green Bay Packers and asked if he could use
it and they agreed. It was quite a birthday present for the coach
who just turned 87 this week.
But, also between the hedges was a football game, the 2019 home opener
for #3 ranked UGA after easily handling Vanderbilt 30-6 last week to
get the season started.
On the other side of the ball was the Murray State Racers...Who? Just ask
Pikeville...Who? The Racers stomped those Bears 59-20 to open their
season a week earlier. The Bulldogs and Racers ancestors might
recognize each other remembering Georgia's 49-0 victory in 1945.
These Dawgs would come in a 49 point favorite, But these Racers
weren't paying attention to that.
It would be a taxing day for all players with a sweltering 93 degrees at
kickoff, which Brian Herrien took out to the 44. James
Cook had been working on receiving this week and immediately
caught one for a 19 yard gain to the MS37. Staying in the air,
Jake Fromm hit D'Andre Swift for a nine yard catch to the
28. Swift got the first with the game's first carry to the 17. A
pass interference penalty on a pass to the end zone put the ball at
the 3. Swift got the rest on a flawless opening drive for a 7-0
lead. Four plays 56 yards in 1:34.
Murray State began their opening drive at their 25. DaQuon Green
got a first down on a 13 yard catch to the 40. But, a 12 yard sack
back to the 30 by Jermaine Johnson and Azeez Ojulari
brought up a third and 19. Too much to make up and the Racers had to
punt with UGA getting the ball at their 21.
Cook took the handoff and motored 15 yards to the 40. But a 9 yard Fromm
sack by Anthony Koclanakis forced a punt. Racers ball at
their 28. Murray State showed that they are here to be more than a
cream puff opponent as they quickly tied the game in just 1:26. They
picked up a first on a pair of carries by Jared McCray. On
the next play, Preston Rice hit an open Green who sprinted 60
yards virtually untouched to the end zone.
Herrien took the kick out to the 38 then got six more on a carry to the
44. Eli Wolf was open up the middle for a 19 yard catch at
the MS40. But the tight end fumbled on the next play, which Nigel
Walton took back 8 yards giving his team the ball at their 40.
Armani Hayes quickly picked up 15 on a completion to the UGA45.
But, after a false start, Nolan Smith got a sack to end the
Racers hops of taking an early lead. Georgia got the ball back after
the kick at their 22. An animated Kirby Smart tried to wake
his team up on the sidelines.
Swift got the message and broke free down the far sidelines for 40 yards
to the MS38. C chorus of "Zeus" greeted Zamir White on a
first down carry to the 28. Mitch Stewart took his first time
out. Another nice 7 yard gain by White was nullified by a Trey
Hill holding call. Two carries by Herrien got the yardage back
with a new set of downs at the 15 as the first quarter came to an
end. Cook maneuvered around the right side for 13 to the 2. Then,
Herrien crossed the goal line to restore order 14-7. Seven plays, 78
yards in 2:38.
After the Rodrigo Blankenship usual touchback, the Racers tried
again at their 25. They didn't try hard enough as McCray had the
ball jarred loose by Mark Webb with JR Reed scooping
the fumble up and running it 15 yards to the end zone for a 21-7
lead. At this point, the Bulldogs became the E-Racers, erasing any
dreams of an upset by the Racers.
On the kick, the Bulldogs pinned DeQuan Dallas at this own seven.
Sylvaughn Turner fought his way to the 20 for some breathing
room and a first down. But, Walter Grant sacked Rice for a
seven yard loss at his 15. A pass rush by Adam Anderson
caused an intentional grounding call putting the ball at the one and
a 14 yard sack. Smart took his first time out.
Georgia got the ball back at the MS41 after a Dominique Blaylock
11 yard kick return. In heavy traffic George Pickens brought
one in for a 10 yard pickup at the 35. A nice catch and run by Wolf
made it first and goal at the 10. Swift got the rest for a 28-7
The Racers got the ball at their 25 again and could only get to the 30
with a 50 yard punt giving UGA th ball at their 20.
On the first play, Pickens made a diving circus catch at the 37. On the
next play, a 22 yard Wolf catch set up an easy Pickens TD in the
left corner of the end zone. And in just 37 seconds, it was 35-7.
For those of you who remember Hulk Hogan's old wrestling routine
where a lesser opponent would come out and be pushing the Hulkster
around giving the fans concern. As the opponent began landing blows
on Hogan's face, he began to come alive. Each additional blow had no
effects except to wake up the sleeping giant even more until he
exploded and proceeded to destroy the opponent.
That's what this reminded me of. After another futile drive, Tyler
Simmons dropped the punt, then picked it up and scooted free for
42 yards to the MS36.
Stetson Bennett came in to get some experience at quarterback and
immediately hit John FitzPatrick for 22 yards. White got his
first career touchdown on an 8 yards run up the middle. 42-7. Four
plays and 36 yards in 1:34.
From their 25, Rice scrambled free into Georgia territory to the 33. The
defense held with Gabriel Vicente trying to get something on
the board but missing from 45 to keep the score 42-7 at the half.
The Dawgs almost got their predicted 49 point lead in the second
quarter alone, outscoring the Racers 35-0. The 42 first half points
was the most sing UGA did it against New Mexico State 8 years
Murray State got the ball to start the second half at their 25. A pass to
Hayes got 9 followed by a 13 yard first down catch by Green at the
UGA48. No more and the punt was fair caught at the 12.
Not content, Smart could be seen still trying to pump his team up on the
sidelines. Bennett remained in at QB and handed off to White for 9
with 4 more getting a first down at the 24. Demetris Robertson
got 9 on a catch at the 33. The Racer defense finally got them some
points as Walton picked off Bennett for a pick six making it 42-14.
Bennett hit Cook for 8 at the 33 to begin the next drive then handed off
to White, who did a nifty spin move on the way to a 29 yard run.
Ball at the MS38. Matt Landers got his first catch for 12 to
the 19. Robertson in the right corner of the end zone for another
Another touchback and the ball at the 25. They got a first down with a
Justin Connor carry to the 36. Rice bought some time, then found
Jacob Bell for a big 50 yard catch all the way to the 14. The
drive stalled there ad Vicente came in to connect from 26, 49-17.
That would be the last of the scoring for the Racers. But, UGA wasn't
done. Bennett hit Blaylock for 12 to the 48 then again for 11.
Pickens caught one for 10 but had that called back by an
unsportsmanlike conduct call. They got it back when Blaylock found
the end zone with a 25 yard catch and a 56-17 score.
Murray State with new QB Brendan Bognar against Georgia's second
and third teamers could do nothing, even after going for it on
Georgia took over on downs at their 30 and make quick work of the great
field position, highlighted by a 26 yard rush by Kenny McIntosh.
UGA tacked on their final tally and an ending score of 63-17. All of
that after it was tied at 7 after one quarter. They had a balanced
combined 561 yards, with 269 on the ground.
Smart still saw some things he didn't like. "We just need to fix a few
things. We'll work this week, like we always do, on fundamentals.
We've got to tackle better. We had sloppy, sloppy tackling. Against
good people, that will come back to haunt you. We'll work on that."
Next up, the Dawgs continue their three game homestand against Arkansas
State (1-1) on Saturday, September 14 at Noon (ESPN). The Red Wolves
will be coming in after a 43-17 victory over the UNLV Rebels.