With the loss, Vanderbilt moves to 3-3 overall, and 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Vanderbilt's victory in SEC play came versus Ole Miss (31-17, Sept. 15). The Commodores' losses are to Alabama (10-24, Sept. 8), Auburn (7-35, Oct. 6) and Georgia.
First Half Notes: Sophomore linebacker Patrick Benoist made his first career start, replacing Brandon Bryant, who was injured at Auburn. Sophomore cornerback D.J. Moore made his first appearance on offense in the first quarter. He took an end around hand-off and gained nine yards. With 9:36, Moore rushed for 39 yards on another end around to give the `Dores possession at the Bulldog 15-yard line. On the next play, Moore got a handoff from Adams, pitched to Sean Walker, who ran around left end for a touchdown. It was the second rushing touchdown of Walker's career. Bryant Hahnfeldt capped off a 14-play, 68-yard drive with a 21-yard field goal in the first quarter. He has converted 8 of 11 on the season. After the Commodore defense stopped Georgia, Alex Washington gave Vanderbilt possession at the Bulldog 41-yard line with a 20-yard punt return. It was a career long return for Washington. Adams's 16-yard pass to Walker capped a five-play, 50-yard touchdown drive. Walker made a diving one-handed catch in the end zone, with replay officials reversing an incompletion by Walker. It is the first time in Walker's career that he posted both a rushing and receiving touchdown. The Commodores' 17-7 halftime lead was one point shy of the team's 14-3 margin over Ole Miss earlier this season, Vanderbilt controlled the first half, producing more first downs (11-5) and more total yards (212-143) while holding a 16:35-13:25 advantage in time of possession.
Commodore Superlatives: Eight different Commodores had a rushing attempt, including two quarterbacks (Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson), three receivers (D.J. Moore, Sean Walker, and Alex Washington), and three tailbacks (Cassen Jackson-Garrison, Jeff Jennings and Jared Hawkins). Collectively, the Commodores rushed for 179 yards on 38 carries. Mackenzi Adams was efficient in his most productive minutes of the season. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 46 yards on a career-high 14 carries. D.J. Moore became the Commodores' first two-way player since Lorenzo Parker played tailback and cornerback against Tennessee on Nov. 23, 2002. Moore was effective in multiple roles - contributing tackles and a defended pass as a cornerback, rushing for 48 yards on two carries on offense, and averaging 21.3 yards on kickoff returns. Earl Bennett caught three passes for 31 yards. He moved into second place all-time in receptions in the Southeastern Conference among receivers with 205 receptions. He moved beyond former Georgia standout Terrence Edwards (204) during the game. Sophomore cornerback Myron Lewis tied a career-high with three passes broken up. Senior linebackers Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs led the Commodore defense with 14 and 8 total tackles. Goff also added a quarterback sack, his second of the year. Goff's 12 solo tackles and 14 total tackles ties his career single-game high (September 2, 2006 vs. Michigan). Sophomore punter Brett Upson averaged 44.2 yards per punt, while allowing just eight return yards on 6 punts. Earl Bennett was held to under 4 receptions in a game for the first time since October 8, 2005 (vs. LSU) - breaking a streak that lasted 22 games.
Moreno Shoulders the Load: Redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno, in his first career start, posted his second career 100-yard game, getting a career-high 157 yards on 28 carries. It was the most carries by a Bulldog since 2002 when Musa Smith carried it 37 times for 148 yards in a 31-17 win over Ole Miss. Moreno's previous best was 104 yards on 14 carries against South Carolina. He moved up to eighth in school history for most rushing yards by a freshman now with 619 yards. He passed current teammate senior Kregg Lumpkin who tallied 523 yards and six TDs in 2003.
Another Road Win: Georgia improved to 24-4 in an opponent's stadium under mark Richt. Also, Georgia is now 1-2 this year when trailing at the half. The Bulldogs trailed South Carolina 10-3 and lost 16-12; UT led 28-0 and won 35-14. Before tonight, Georgia's last comeback after trailing at the half was the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia Tech. Georgia fell behind 21-3 and won 31-24. That was the largest comeback under Richt. Tonight, Georgia fell behind 17-7 at the half. It marked the 14th victory for Richt's teams when they trailed late and second comeback win this season, the other a 26-23 overtime win at Alabama.
Defense Pitches Another Shutout In the Second Half: Georgia came in allowing just 20.2 points a game and Vanderbilt had 17 points at the half but none in the second half. It marked Georgia's second shutout in the second half this year, the other coming against Oklahoma State in the season opener. Coming in tonight, Georgia had allowed 121 points on the year, 74 in the first half but only 47 in the second half (including three points in overtime). In Georgia's last three games, the opponents have combined to score just 14 points in the second half (0 by Vanderbilt, 7 by UT and 7 by Ole Miss). Tonight, Georgia's leading tackler was Geno Atkins with 8 followed by Dannel Ellerbe and Marcus Howard with six apiece. Also, the team combined for three sacks and three forced fumbles.
Coutu Hits Game-Winner: Senior Brandon Coutu notched his first game-winning field goal as he hit a 37-yarder with three seconds left for a 20-17 win. The only other time he kicked one with time winding down was earlier this year at Alabama where he missed from 47 yards out. Georgia would eventually win in overtime. He was 2-for-3 tonight, the miss from 49 yards out. In his career, he is 14-for-16 in the fourth quarter, the two misses were from 47 and 52 yards. For his career, Coutu is 45-57 including 13-for-15 from 30-39 yards.
Points Off Turnovers: Georgia got 10 points off two turnovers including the game-winning field goal. First, Georgia converted a Vanderbilt fumble in to a TD. Kade Weston recovered a fumble. It led to a TD on the next play, a 32-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Sean Bailey and a 7-0 lead. It was the first forced turnover since the Ole Miss game on Sept. 29. Darryl Gamble forced a fumble and it was recovered by Dannell Ellerbe. It led to a 37-yard game-winning field goal by Brandon Coutu. On the year, Georgia now has converted six turnovers in to 24 points.
First-Time Starter/Captain: Redshirt freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno became the 18th first-time starter for the Bulldogs this year including seventh on offense. Also of note, Moreno was one of the four game captains (junior MLB Dannell Ellerbe, sophomore WCB Prince Miller, junior punter Brian Mimbs) and the first freshman captain in the Mark Richt era which began in 2001. During Jim Donnan's tenure at Georgia (1996-2000), the permanent captains were voted on by the players during the preseason. They served as game captains and there was never a freshman captain.
Filling In: With senior Thomas Brown out for the next month with a collarbone injury, sophomore Asher Allen served as the kickoff returner tonight while senior Thomas Flowers returned punts with senior Mikey Henderson held out due to a hamstring injury. Allen and Flowers had prior experience in these return roles. Meanwhile, junior guard Scott Haverkamp returned to action tonight. He started the first three games before missing the next three with an ankle injury. True freshman Clint Boling has gotten the start at right guard the past four games.
Injury Report: Senior RB Kregg Lumpkin injured his left ankle early in the third quarter and did not return. He finished with 6 yards on 2 carries and 1 catxch for 7 yards. Lumpkin had returned in limited action last week at Tennessee after missing the three previous games due to a thumb injury.