The Georgia Bulldogs were waiting at the bottom of the hill as the Clemson Tigers slapped what was left of Howard’s Rock and entered Death Valley for a showdown of top ten teams. Clemson made history by becoming the first non conference team to beat a top 10 ranked SEC team in consecutive games.
After both teams traded 3 and outs to open the game, Clemson drove down the field and scored on a 4 yard Tajh Boyd run. Todd Gurley answered with a 75 yard blast off right tackle, the longest TD run of his career, he finished the night with 154 yards on 12 carries, also a career high and his 10th 100 yard game. Clemson came right back with a 77 yard pass to Sammy Watkins on the next play to again take a touchdown lead.
The Bulldogs settled down and executed an eleven play 75 yard drive with Keith Marshall powering his way in from four yards out, the Dawgs then took the lead for the first time on a Quayvon Hicks one yard dive early in the second quarter to complete a 97 yard drive.
Aaron Murray fumbled as he was sacked on the 20 yard line and Clemson tied the game on Tajh Boyd’s second TD.
The Bulldogs got a turnover on a muffed punt by Sammy Watkins but Murray threw an interception on the next play. The young Dawg defense held and the half ended at 21 -21.
Georgia got the ball to open the second half and lost 22 yards on three plays forcing their 4th punt of the game. Tajh Boyd led the Tigers on a 7 play, 55 yard drive that culminated in a 37 yard TD to Zac Brooks.
Murray and the offense finally got on track thanks to a timely fumble recovery by Chris Conley following a swing pass to Quayvon Hicks that set up a 12 yard Todd Gurley touchdown run up the middle to tie the game at 28.
Clemson answered with a 24 yard field goal to take a 31-28 lead.
The Dawgs drove down the field and with a first and goal inside the five yard line were unable to punch it in, walk-on Patrick Beless attempted a tying field goal but failed to get the kick off as the snap from Nathan Theus was too high for Adam Erickson to handle.
The defense got a 3 and out to set Murray and the offense up with great field position but Clemson’s defense refused to break, Tajh Boyd added a 7 yard touchdown pass to tight end Stanton Seckinger to extend the lead to 38 -28.
Murray brought the Dawgs flying down the field and closed the gap to 3 on a one yard dive with 1:19 remaining finishing off a 5 play, 64 yard drive.
The ensuing on side kick attempt was recovered by Clemson and Tajh Boyd was able to run out the clock to preserve a 38 – 35 win.
The Bulldogs had 524 yards of total offense, 222 rushing on 41 attempts and Murray completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards. The Dawgs were penalized 9 times for 84 yards and committed 2 turnovers.
Coach Mark Richt said after the game that, ”Moving the ball is fun and all that but winning is what it’s all about.”
Georgia started three true freshmen on defense, Tray Matthews at safety, Brendan Langley at cornerback and Leonard Floyd at the Sam linebacker position. Malcolm Mitchell suffered what may turn out to be a serious knee injury when he jumped into the air celebrating Gurley’s touchdown and will be evaluated on Sunday.
The Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium next Saturday to host the South Carolina Gamecocks in their SEC opener.
All photos are copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy Photography,