Sep 21, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; North Texas Mean Green running back Brandin Byrd (24) is tackled by Georgia Bulldogs safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) and nose tackle Chris Mayes (93) during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Football: Bulldogs Win 45-21 In Soggy Sanford

Sep 21, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Michael Bennett (82) is tackled by North Texas Mean Green defensive back Kenny Buyers (31) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated North Texas 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Bulldogs did everything they could to keep North Texas in the game, until the clock finally broke and time ran out. Thankfully the boys from Texas took the first boat out of town and left the Dawgs dignity intact with a 45 – 21 win. Coach Mark Richt said he wasn’t surprised by what he saw, “This was a big game. I wasn’t kidding when I was trying to explain to everyone that this is a good football team. The only thing I saw different was an inch or two in height. These guys are really good players and they are really well coached. They gave us one heck of a ballgame.”

The Bulldogs gave up a 99 yard kickoff return, a blocked punt for a touchdown and watched the “Mean Green” defense become the first to hold Todd Gurley under 100 yards this season. The game was tied at 21 in the middle of the 3rd quarter before Aaron Murray was shoved into the end zone by Gurley to give the Dawgs the lead, it certainly wasn’t pretty but it’s a W.

In the Dawg’s locker room, Murray admitted that, “Everyone’s going to “Monday Morning Quarterback”, but at the end of the day it’s a win. We’re not going to apologize for winning the game. I thought our team stumbled here and there and I’m really proud of how we fought through it and the way we finished. We preach “Finish the Drill” and we definitely did that today.”

Richt said that even though Murray and the offense rolled up 641 yards (4th all-time), it was the defensive play that got his attention, “I think the biggest key in the game was the defense and how well they played. Overall, the defense stepped up and played well.” The Mean Green had 245 yards of total offense including just seven rushing yards. This is lowest rushing total since Georgia held Florida to minus 19 in 2011. The seven yards allowed ties the mark for fewest surrendered by an FBS defense this year, matching Southern California versus Washington State.

Murray was 22 of 30 for 408 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, he reached the 100 touchdown mark is style by hitting a streaking Reggie Davis in stride for a record 98 yard TD to open the 2nd quarter, Murray moved to No. 3 on the all-time SEC list for total offense with 11,352 yards. Today marked his third career game with 400+ passing yards, he has two games with 427. It was Davis’ first career reception and the longest offensive play in Georgia history. Senior flanker Rantavious Wooten is now 1 for 2 in his career as he completed his only attempt to tight end Arthur Lynch for 42 yards, his first pass came in the Buffalo game last season, Lynch scored five plays later and finished the day with 4 catches for 85 yards, both career highs.

Placekicker Marshall Morgan returned from his suspension and was 1 for 2 on the day, missing a 52 yard attempt as the first half ended and connecting from 27 yards out with under four minutes remaining in the game, he was perfect on all 6 PAT attempts.

Sep 21, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; North Texas Mean Green defensive back Marcus Trice (8) blocks a punt by Georgia Bulldogs punter Collin Barber (32) that gets recovered for a touchdown during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated North Texas 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The 99 yard kickoff return was the first since Florida’s Jeff Demps went for 99 in 2011, the blocked punt TD was the first since Central Florida’s Thad Ward did it in 1999.

Junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson had a game high nine tackles while Josh Harvey-Clemons was next with seven. Freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd also registered his first two sacks for a loss of 17 yards and wound up with six tackles. The Dawg defense has five sacks this year.

Junior free safety Corey Moore got his first start on defense, he started one game on offense last season as a lead blocker. In the third quarter, freshman free safety Tray Matthews snagged his first career interception and the teams first this season, it resulted in a 12-play, 95-yard scoring drive.

Overall, Georgia improves to 50-9 in non-conference games under Mark Richt including 35-1 at home. Up next, former quarterback Zach Mettenberger and his LSU Tigers. Coach Richt says the team knows what’s on the line with every conference game, “We’ve all got big hopes and big dreams. Everyone in the stadium will be thinking about division championships and conference championships and possibly staying in the hunt for the national championship. This will be the third top-10 team we’ve played in four games. We’re 1-1 in those and it would be phenomenal if we were 2-1.”

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