September 26, 2009

Walsh kick boost Dawgs to win

Four games into the season and there's only one for certain that anybody can say about the 2009 Georgia Bulldogs. Nothing is going to come easy.

Take Saturday night's game against Arizona State, the outcome of which wasn't decided until the final tick of the clock when Blair Walsh's 37-yard field goal boosted the 21st-ranked Bulldogs to a 20-17 win.

"This is the greatest experience of my career," Walsh said. "To have the chance at the game winner and hit it … it feels good."

Head coach Mark Richt couldn't have agreed more.

"Every win is a good win. We hate to frazzle everyone's nerves, but maybe we're just trying to get the next team overconfident," Richt said. "I am super proud of our effort, especially on defense. They played lights out. It was an exciting game."

There's no question about that.

After scoring 93 points in its previous two games against South Carolina and Arkansas, the Bulldogs (3-1) sputtered against the Pac-10 Sun Devils, turning the football over three times leading to 14 of ASU's 17 points.

But this time, the defense was able to pick up the slack.

Georgia held the Sun Devils to 204 total yards while receiver A.J. Green came up with the special team's play of the night when he blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Bobby Wenzig with 4:31 to play after Jarrell Holman's interception set the Sun Devils up at the Bulldog 20.

Green's work wasn't done.

Six plays later, quarterback Joe Cox hooked up with Green on a 36-yard pass to the ASU 22 to set up Walsh's eighth field goal in eight attempts this year.

"The difference is that they made a catch at the end of the game and we didn't" ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. "Their guy (Green) makes a catch at the end of the game on a streak pattern; that was a hell of a play."

Green finished with eight catches for 153 yards and one touchdown, a 56-yarder from Cox in the first quarter that put the Bulldogs up 7-0.

Cox finished 17 of 31 passing for 242 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Caleb King was the leading rusher, picking up 55 yards on 11 carries.

Howevever, turnover almost ruined the evening for the Bulldogs.

First, it was a third-quarter fumble by King which set up a short drive by Arizona State which quarterback Danny Sullivan converted when he connected with Dimitri Nance for a 6-yard touchdown pass to bring the Sun Devils (2-1) within 14-10.

But Georgia's lead would not last for long.

On the Bulldogs' next possession, Cox overthrew his target down the middle of the field, right into the arms of Holman who weaved his way 47 yards for the go-ahead score.

The play was the second pick-6 thrown by this year by Cox, who was also intercepted by South Carolina's Eric Norwood.

Trailing 17-14, Georgia caught a break when Wenzig's kick sailed out of bounds giving the Bulldogs the football at the 40-yard line.

On the arm of Cox, Georgia roared down the field before a 5-yard run by Fred Munzenmaier set the Bulldogs up at the 2 for a first and goal.

But the Bulldogs couldn't punch it in.

A short pickup by Munzemaier preceded a five-yard loss by Richard Samuel before Cox was flushed from the pocket before firing to his left to Green, who coaches thought was able to keep his foot down from the score.

Richt charged on the field to challenge the call, but the play stood, forcing Georgia to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Walsh to tie the game.

For a time, it looked as if Mother Nature would hold the winning hand.

Heavy rains and a threat of lightning kept both teams off the field for warmups until 30 minutes before kickoff.

The layoff didn't appear to bother Green.

With Georgia facing a first-and-10 from the Bulldog 44, Cox found Green in one-on-one coverage down the right sideline where the sophomore caught the ball on the 15. But instead of stepping out of bounds, Green cut back toward the middle of field and out-ran the safety for the end zone to complete the 56-yard play, the longest of his career.

Later in the first quarter, Munzenmaier got into the act following a 43-yard field goal by Wenzig.

Munzenmaier, whose two previous career rushes resulted in touchdown made it three when he bulled his way in from two-yard out with 51 seconds to extend Georgia's margin to 14-3.

The score stayed that way the rest of the half, thanks partly to safety Bacarri Rambo who intercepted Sullivan at the Bulldog 25.

"The defense played lights out, quite frankly," Richt said. "We had 20 guys make tackles and we had 14 with two or more. They held up beautifully. When you look at the statistics, you see the defense really had a terrific game."

Georgia returns to action next Saturday when the Bulldogs host LSU.

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