|by David Hood|
Gurley returned a kickoff for a touchdown and looked like the nation’s best running in rushing 15 times for 198 yards – accumulating a Georgia record 293 all-purpose yards along the way – as No. 12 Georgia defeated No. 16 Clemson 45-21 in Sanford Stadium Saturday night.
Georgia’s defense made Clemson’s offensive line look weak in the second, and the Bulldog running game salted the game away with powerful runs against Clemson’s defense.
The Tigers looked to be in good shape after taking a 21-14 lead in the second quarter – the offense was clicking and running plays at a good rate – but Gurley took the ensuing kickoff deep in his own endzone and raced almost untouched for the tying touchdown.
Clemson missed a field goal at the end of the half, and never regained an offensive rhythm as the Bulldogs rode Gurley and a deep stable of running backs to the win.
Stoudt’s first drive as a starter couldn’t have been scripted better – he led the team on a 12-play, 70-yard drive that took over four minutes off the clock. Stoudt completed a 38-yard pass to Mike Williams that gave the Tigers the early momentum, but Swinney called a timeout with the Tigers facing a 4th-and-goal inside the Georgia one.
The offense came back out on the field, and Howard - led by the blocking of Kurt Fleming – dove over the pile for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The teams traded punts, and the Bulldogs didn’t take long to tie the score on their second drive. A 60-yard punt and loss of nine by returner Adam Humphries pinned the Tigers deep, and the resulting punt gave Georgia the ball near midfield. Five plays later, Gurley bounced around the left side for a 23-yard touchdown run to make it 7-7.
Mike Williams dropped two passes on Clemson’s ensuing possession – both catchable balls that would have moved the sticks – and the Tigers were forced to punt. The Bulldogs then used two pass interference penalties against Clemson defenders to move inside the Clemson 10 yard line, but Clemson’s defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Robert Smith.
The Tigers were unable to capitalize – Charone Peake dropped Clemson’s third pass of the day – and Stoudt was sacked deep in Clemson territory. It didn’t take Georgia long to take the lead, getting two bruising runs by Gurley and a short touchdown run Mason for a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Enter Deshaun Watson.
The freshman began his Clemson career with a run off the left side, completed a 29-yarder to Mike Williams down the left sideline and then a 30-yarder to Peake on a post route for a quick Clemson touchdown and a 14-14 score.
Clemson’s defense forced a Georgia punt, and Stoudt came back in at quarterback and immediately hit Artavis Scott for 35 yards. However, the Tigers once again faced a fourth down inside the Georgia five, but Stoudt again got the first down by rumbling over the right side. Three plays later, Davidson leaped over from the one for a 21-14 Clemson lead with 7:28 remaining in the half.
Todd Gurley answered all on his own, taking the ensuing kickoff from deep in the endzone for the tying touchdown. The Tigers then turned it over for the first time all season on Clemson’s next possession – Stoudt threw into coverage – giving the Bulldogs life near midfield.
However, Clemson’s defense forced a three-and-out and Clemson took over deep in its own territory. A promising drive ended with a miss on a 39-yard field goal by Ammon Lakip with 52 seconds left in the half and teams went into intermission tied.
The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff of the second half and turned it into a 27-yard field goal for a 24-21 Georgia lead.
The game then turned into a game of field position and punts, and the Tigers appeared the flip the field with a long punt early in the fourth quarter. Gurley flipped it back.
Gurley had a 38-yard run to begin the drive, and finished it with an 18-yard run – almost untouched – for a 31-21 Georgia lead with 10:26 remaining in the game.
Nick Chubb iced the win with a long run on Georgia’s next possession – breaking arm tackles along the way – for the 38-21 lead. Gurley added the exclamation point a drive later with another long run – this one covering 51 yards – for the 45-21 lead.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- Clemson............. 7 14 0 0 - 21 Record: (0-1) Georgia............. 14 7 3 21 - 45 Record: (1-0) Scoring Summary: 1st 10:46 CU - D.J. Howard 1 yd run (Ammon Lakip kick), 12-70 4:14, CU 7 - UGA 0 06:36 UGA - Todd Gurley 23 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 5-57 1:13, CU 7 - UGA 7 00:35 UGA - Hutson Mason 2 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 5-36 1:07, CU 7 - UGA 14 2nd 13:52 CU - Charone Peake 30 yd pass from Deshaun Watson (Ammon Lakip kick), 6-78 1:42, CU 14 - UGA 14 07:28 CU - C.J. Davidson 1 yd run (Ammon Lakip kick), 10-68 4:23, CU 21 - UGA 14 07:15 UGA - Todd Gurley 100 yd kickoff return (Marshall Morgan kick), , CU 21 - UGA 21 3rd 11:27 UGA - Marshall Morgan 27 yd field goal, 10-57 3:29, CU 21 - UGA 24 4th 10:26 UGA - Todd Gurley 18 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 6-82 2:30, CU 21 - UGA 31 08:53 UGA - Nick Chubb 47 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 1-47 0:12, CU 21 - UGA 38 07:34 UGA - Todd Gurley 51 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 1-51 0:10, CU 21 - UGA 45 CU UGA FIRST DOWNS................... 15 22 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 44-102 41-328 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 189 131 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 32-17-1 26-18-0 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 76-291 67-459 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0 Punt Returns-Yards............ 2--6 8-61 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 6-108 2-110 Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 1-0 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 10-45.1 6-44.0 Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-0 2-1 Penalties-Yards............... 3-40 8-65 Possession Time............... 29:55 30:05 Third-Down Conversions........ 7 of 20 5 of 13 Fourth-Down Conversions....... 2 of 2 1 of 1 Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-3 3-5 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-13 5-38 RUSHING: Clemson-C.J. Davidson 13-66; D.J. Howard 11-28; Cole Stoudt 13-16; Wayne Gallman 1-5; Deshaun Watson 5-minus 3; TEAM 1-minus 10. Georgia-Todd Gurley 15-198; Nick Chubb 4-70; Sony Michel 6-33; Quayvon Hicks 2-14; Isaiah McKenzie 1-9; Keith Marshall 6-8; TEAM 1-minus 1; Hutson Mason 6-minus 3. PASSING: Clemson-Cole Stoudt 15-28-1-130; Deshaun Watson 2-4-0-59. Georgia-Hutson Mason 18-26-0-131. RECEIVING: Clemson-Adam Humphries 5-11; Mike Williams 3-88; Artavis Scott 2-41; Wayne Gallman 2-17; Charone Peake 1-30; C.J. Davidson 1-3; Jay Jay McCullough 1-2; Stanton Seckinger 1-0; D.J. Howard 1-minus 3. Georgia-Michael Bennett 5-60; Sony Michel 3-20; Jay Rome 3-18; Chris Conley 2-14; Isaiah McKenzie 2-11; Jeb Blazevich 1-9; Kenneth Towns 1-4; Todd Gurley 1-minus 5. INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-None. Georgia-Aaron Davis 1-0. FUMBLES: Clemson-TEAM 1-0; Cole Stoudt 1-0. Georgia-Michael Bennett 1-1; Hutson Mason 1-0. Stadium: Sanford Stadium Attendance: 92746 Kickoff time: 5:36 End of Game: 9:14 Total elapsed time: 3:38 Officials: Referee: Tom Ritter; Umpire: Stan Weihe; Linesman: Johnny Crawford; Line judge: Tim Beard; Back judge: Dax Hill; Field judge: James Carter; Side judge: Chuck Ross; Alternate: Matt Austin; Temperature: 87 Wind: E 6 mph Weather: Mostly sunny
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org