ATHENS, Ga. — FAU gave Georgia its money’s worth, but in the end, the No. 7 Bulldogs were too strong for the overmatched Owls Saturday night between the hedges of Sanford Stadium.
FAU, who were paid $1 million by Georgia to play Saturday, countered Georgia’s paycheck with an early scare, as the Owls matched Georgia blow-for-blow through the first 23 minutes of regulation, but after the tight start, the Bulldogs strung together six unanswered touchdowns en route to a 56-20 rout.
The Bulldogs (3-0) gained the most yards in the 120-year history of Georgia football Saturday, amassing more than 700 yards with ease against the Owls. The 713-yard performance was the most FAU (1-2) has given up in its program history.
Graham Wilbert, coming off a career game in a loss to Middle Tennessee State, was a revelation in the first half for FAU, throwing for 168 yards and a touchdown after two quarters. Second-half adjustments stifled Wilbert and the FAU arial attack, as the quarterback only had three completions for the remainder of the game.
Wilbert ended the contest with 183 yards passing. FAU gained only 55 yards in the second half.
Damian Fortner’s 43-yard touchdown run started the Owls. Finding a seam on the left side of the FAU offensive line late in the first quarter, Fortner dashed unabated to the endzone, tying the game at 7-7.
Fortner ended the game with 81 yards on 14 carries.
FAU’s defense wasn’t able to keep up with the Bulldogs, and after Wilbert connected with Nexon Dorvilius for a two-yard touchdown pass, Georgia quickly scored two touchdowns to reaffirm dominance in the game.
Georgia quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Aaron Murray completed 14 of 19 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns (two rushing) before being lifted in the fourth quarter.
Georgia freshman tailbacks Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley battered the FAU defense with mercilessly physical runs. Both backs ran for more than 100 yards, the first time two freshmen Georgia running backs have achieved that since 2004, and each added a touchdown as well. Marshall scored from two yards out, Gurley from 38 away.
FAU, after allowing 302 yards to Middle Tennessee State in their Sun Belt opener, allowed Georgia to run for 331 yards Saturday.
William Dukes had a breakout game for the Owls Saturday. The Dillard alum had five receptions for 98 yards, but went down with an injury once the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. Dukes was unable to leave the field on his own, and was taken off the sidelines on a cart.
After the Dorvilius touchdown, Georgia made it clear they were the better team. A touchdown throw from Murray to Arthur Lynch redeemed the tight end for his first-quarter fumble which turned into an FAU touchdown. That was followed by Gurley’s 38-yard scoring scamper and Amario Herrera’s 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Both Lynch and Herrera’s touchdowns were their first as Bulldogs.
FAU entered Saturday’s game having converted only 11 third downs all season, but the Owls were kept alive in the first half by converting nine of 12 first-half opportunities. FAU failed to convert on it’s final six third-down attempts.
Adarius Glanton returned a fourth-quarter interception for a touchdown, his first as an Owl, but by then, it was too little too late. The extra point was blocked by Georgia.
Stephen Curtis entered the game in the fourth quarter, spelling Wilbert, and he too succumbed injury. Wilbert re-entered the game and promptly fumbled.
Still, the Owls, 42-point pre-game underdogs to the Dawgs, will head back to Boca Raton with positive feelings, having matched one of the nation's best for 23 minutes. Next week, FAU plays at No. 1 Alabama.
Georgia held a pre-game ceremony before kickoff to introduce Russ, an eight-year-old white English Bulldog, as Uga IX, the ninth incarnation of school's official live mascot. Russ, by far the most popular attendee of Saturday's game, stood, sat and jumped on the the 50-yard line to a standing ovation from the crowd, before retiring to his doghouse on the sidelines, between the hedges that surround the field.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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