By JOHN CARSON
FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
ATHENS – Scoring the game’s final 24 points, the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs held off pesky North Texas, 45-21, through a heavy second-half rain Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Despite 191 rushing yards for the Dogs, sophomore and Tarboro native Todd Gurley saw his string of 100-yard games snapped. Gurley finished with a team-high 91 yards on 21 carries, including a 12-yard, first-quarter TD run.
“Todd Gurley is a future first-rounder,” North Texas coach Dan McCarney said. “He is a sensational football player. Anytime you can hold a player like that to 12 yards as his longest run, you are doing some really positive things.”
The Dogs saw a tight game get tighter when their 21-14 halftime lead disappeared 43 seconds into the third quarter when Collin Barber’s punt was blocked and recovered in the end zone to draw the Mean Green even at 21-21.
Offenses misfired in worsening conditions until Georgia embarked on an eight-play, 53-yard drive to take the lead for good on Aaron Murray’s, 1-yard, QB sneak with 2:52 to go in the third.
North Texas responded, moving 48 yards before Dog safety Tray Matthews picked off Derek Thompson at the UGA 5. Georgia then used 12 plays to move 95 yards and take control on a 4-yard pass from Murray to Chris Conley for a 35-21 lead.
The Dogs added a 27-yard, Marshall Morgan field goal and 1-yard, J.J. Green TD run to provide the final margin with 14 seconds to play.
“This was a big game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I wasn’t kidding when I was trying to explain that [North Texas] is a good football team.”
Murray led the way for a Bulldog offense that amassed 641 total yards. The redshirt senior connected on 22-of-39 passes for 408 yards with three TDs and one interception. His first-quarter scoring toss to Reggie Davis covered a school-record 98 yards.
Georgia (2-1, 1-0) returns to SEC play Saturday when they host No. 6 LSU. The game is CBS’s SEC Game of the Week. Kickoff is 3:37 p.m.