(Saturday, September 4th)
Final Score: (23) Georgia 55, Louisiana 7
Athens, GA (Sports Network) - Aaron Murray threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as the 23rd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs trounced the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, 55-7, at Sanford Stadium.
Murray, a redshirt freshman making his first collegiate start, completed 17- of-26 tosses for 160 yards with one pick. He also added 42 rushing yards for Georgia (1-0), which finished 8-5 last season, the program's lowest win total under head coach Mark Richt since he debuted in 2001. Kris Durham benefited from Murray's big day, catching five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
"It's been a long time since I played and it was great to get out there," Murray said. "I really felt great. I was a little nervous earlier this week, but once I got out there and warmed up it really felt great."
The Bulldogs played the game shorthanded, as their top receiver and rusher from a year ago in A.J. Green and Washaun Ealey were missing from the lineup. Green, the team's leading receiver with 53 catches and 808 receiving yards, was held out as the NCAA investigates his alleged improper interaction with an agent. Ealey, meanwhile, paced the squad with 717 rushing yards, but was suspended after being charged in late August with hit and run and driving on a suspended license.
Chris Masson started the game at quarterback for Louisiana (0-1) and threw for 77 yards with one touchdown and an interception for the Cajuns (0-1), who were coming off a 6-6 finish for the second straight season. Ladarius Green was his main target, pulling in four balls for 87 yards and a score.
"We didn't come out with as much focus as in practice," Ladarius Green said. "We dropped passes when we shouldn't have. We're going to have to go back and watch film and work on our pitch-and-catch. Their defense was as good as I expected it to be. You can't take anything away from them, but we just should have worked harder."
The Bulldogs started off the scoring with three minutes left in the opening quarter, as Caleb King's 20-yard touchdown run on third-and-short capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive.
Georgia's defense made its impact felt on the ensuing possession, with corner Brandon Boykin picking off a Masson pass at Louisiana's 28-yard line. The Bulldogs capitalized on the turnover with a three-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Durham just seconds into the second quarter.
A 52-yard field goal by Blair Walsh a few minutes later extended Georgia's advantage to 17-0.
Late in the first half, the Bulldogs added to their lead with an 11-yard scoring strike from Murray to Shaun Chapas.
The Cajuns, though, showed some life with under two minutes remaining. On the very next play following an interception, Masson hit a wide open Green on a 60-yard touchdown pass to put the Cajuns on the board. Louisiana had just six yards of total offense prior to the play.
Unfortunately, Louisiana's defense let down and Georgia took advantage with a 16-yard touchdown run by Murray as time expired. Murray, who snuck the ball just across the goalline as he went out of bounds, was given a second chance after Louisiana's Lance Kelly dropped a sure interception in the back of the end zone a couple players earlier.
The Bulldogs picked up right where they left off after the break, as Walsh connected on a 48-yard field goal just minutes into the second half for a 34-7 Georgia advantage.
The onslaught continued when a one-yard touchdown pass from Murray to a wide open Fred Munzenmaier completed a 10-play, 53-yard drive with 4:25 left in the third.
Hutson Mason then replaced Murray under center and the true freshman threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Logan Gray on his very first collegiate snap.
Things only got worse for the Cajuns, as backup quarterback Blaine Gautier was intercepted early in the fourth quarter by Jakar Hamilton, who returned the pick 17 yards for a score and a 55-7 advantage.
The Bulldogs have won 13 of their last 14 season openers, including a 9-1 mark under Richt...Georgia is 39-4 versus non-conference opponents under Richt...The 55 points was the most for Georgia since a 62-17 win over Kentucky in 2004...The Bulldogs outgained the Cajuns 377-128 and were 8-of-17 on third downs compared to a 3-of-16 showing by Louisiana...This was the first-ever meeting between Georgia and Louisiana on the gridiron...The Cajuns have dropped 13 straight games to ranked opponents since defeating Texas A&M in 1996.
09/04 18:37:19 ET