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Georgia Reaches Safety in 2nd Half

October 19, 2003|From Associated Press

NASHVILLE — Some of the Georgia Bulldogs think they came out a little flat Saturday against the Southeastern Conference's worst team. Coach Mark Richt has another theory.

"Personally, I just think Vanderbilt outplayed us," Richt said.

The fourth-ranked Bulldogs trailed, 2-0, at halftime before Michael Cooper, Tyson Browning and Ronnie Powell had second-half touchdown runs in a 27-8 victory over Vanderbilt, which clinched the Commodores' 21st consecutive losing season.

The defending Southeastern Conference champion Bulldogs, 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC, were coming off an emotional rout of Tennessee in front of more than 107,000 last week. On Saturday, only 27,823 fans were in the stands, and most of them wore Georgia red.

The Commodores (1-7, 0-4) sacked David Greene six times and intercepted a pass in holding the SEC's third-best offense to 343 yards. Georgia had been averaging 408.5 yards and had merely 64 yards by halftime, including only eight in the second quarter.

It was the first time the Bulldogs have been shut out through halftime since 1999 against Auburn.

"It had to be the most embarrassing thing that we've had this year," Browning said.

If Vanderbilt had managed any offense, the Commodores might have had their first victory over a Top 10 opponent since 1974. But the nation's stingiest defense held Vanderbilt to 218 yards to win its ninth straight and 16th out of the last 18 in this series.

"I'm very grateful to have a victory," Richt said. "I'm very impressed how Vanderbilt came out ready to play, especially defensively. They did a great job on our offensive line. I felt that was the difference in the first half. Their defensive line just beat up our offensive line pretty good."

Georgia took its first lead at 3-2 midway through the third when Billy Bennett's 40-yard field goal capped a 15-play drive.

Cooper added a six-yard run for a 10-2 lead later in the third as Georgia scored on three consecutive possessions.

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