Bulldogs dominate second half, roll past Clemson

Photo by Rob Saye

Where should we begin with this 45-21 win for Georgia over Clemson? It’s hard to say with running back Todd Gurley running for 198 yards, running back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, plus four touchdowns or the defense picking up five sacks?

It didn’t look good throughout the first half for UGA, with the score tied at 21 a piece with the Tigers going into the break. The Bulldogs had only 113 total yards on offense through those 30 minutes, to Clemson’s 276. It wasn’t until Georgia forced a three and out on the first Tigers drive of the second half, then the winds started to go with Georgia’s sail’s.

It took until the fourth drive of the second half, for Clemson to pick up their movement of the chains in those final 30 minutes. Head coach Mark Richt was sure a fan of what he was seeing.

“It’s fun to win and it’s fun to win when you don’t have a lot of drama at the end,” Richt said. “It’s just seemed like we’ve had so many dramatic finishes over the last couple of years. I’m just glad we had one where we just finished.”

The defense stiffened up in the second half, to hold Clemson to 15 total yards of offense for those final two quarters. The Tigers had been able to pretty much move at will in the first half, by converting seven out of 13 third downs. Bulldogs outside linebacker Leonard Floyd says the leadership on the sidelines kept them from thinking “here we go again” on defense.

“Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt told us never to think about the play that just happened, think about the next play,” Floyd said. “We came to the sidelines and he said forget about that play, just keep playing and doing our stuff. We kept on doing it and we believed in him. It paid off.”

Floyd himself was strong in the win, with two sacks and seven total tackles. Inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera also had a strong night defensively with his 12 tackles, two sacks, and three and a half tackles for a loss.

The defense did have a heck of a night, but there’s a guy named Todd Gurley that pretty much stole the show. Georgia can think him for 24 of their 45 points in this game. Three of those scores came on the ground, running the football. The other on the second quarter kickoff returned for a touchdown, after Clemson running back CJ Davidson scored from about a yard out to take a 21-14 lead.

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason got to admire a lot of Gurley’s work in this game and says there’s not much bad you can say about the star running back’s night.

“Yeah he’s pretty good man,” Mason said. “Give him the ball every chance you can. We’ve got some pretty good backups too.”

Indeed Georgia does, with freshman running back Nick Chubb picking up a huge 47 yard touchdown run in the second half. Plus, freshman Sony Michel got his chance to run the football for 33 yards on six carries.

The Bulldogs had a tough time running the ball in the first half, with only 45 yards rushing during those 30 minutes. Gurley thinks the fact they were able to spread the field with running and passing plays to the outside started to loosen up those inside running lanes.

“At the beginning of the game that was probably one of their game plans to stop the run,” Gurley said. “They had eight or nine guys down in the box. We kind of opened up the pass game a little bit and eventually I kind of felt like we started to where them down. We kept running the ball.”

The ‘Dawgs ended up 283 yards in the second half on the ground and it was also an opportunity for fans to see freshman running back Nick Chubb break one deep for a touchdown. He went around the corner for 47 yards to the end zone for his first score of the career.

“(I’m just thinking) run full speed, go ahead and get in there,” Chubb said. “Celebrate with your team and make sure there’s no flags back there.”

Richt did like what he saw from his other running backs on the field, but thinks that Todd Gurley might be a cut above the rest.

“I think he’s the best player in America or at least one of them,” Richt said. “You’ve got to have teammates that help you do it, but he’s one of the best in America.”

Georgia gets a week to enjoy this win, before they face their first road and conference test of the season against South Carolina on September 13th. Richt knows it won’t be an easy time in Columbia, especially the fact the Gamecocks are still reeling from their loss to Texas A&M.

“Yeah it’s just one game and we’re going to hear probably good stuff for two weeks and South Carolina’s not going to hear much good this week,” Richt said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. I don’t know how hot it’s going to be (in Columbia). I know last time we went to South Carolina we got mauled, we got embarrassed, and we got beat down. We’ve got to do better this time around.”

That game in Columbia is the first SEC on CBS 3:30 kickoff of the season.



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