Dawgs drop a thriller in Baton Rouge
AP Photo/Bill Haber
AP Photo/Bill Haber
Dawgpost.com
Posted Sep 20, 2003


BATON ROUGE, La. - The Georgia team of recent history isn't used to losing games. And it certainly isn't used to losing games like this.

LSU rode a stifling defense, an offense that made the plays that counted and a couple key bounces, the same formula the Bulldogs used to win the SEC Championship last year, to beat No. 7 Georgia 17-10 on Saturday.

A crowd of 92,251, the largest Tiger Stadium history watched delightedly as Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) fell to 9-1 on an opponent's field in Coach Mark Richt's tenure. It was also the Bulldogs first loss in nine games and second 17 on any field.

"Big games like this really come down to who's going to make the big plays, and they did that," Richt said. "It was just a great football game, we just lost."

No. 11 LSU improved to 4-0 and 1-0 in the SEC after a dramatic ending that saw 14 points scored in the final 4:25.

After missing chances, and field goals, all day long, the Bulldogs tied the game on a 93-yard screen pass from David Greene to running back Tyson Browning with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter. Billy Bennett, who missed three field goals in the first half, tied at 10-10 with an extra point.

However, LSU's Devery Henderson took the ensuing kickoff back 48 yards to the Tiger's 49-yard line. From there, LSU drove to Georgia's 34, where it faced third-and-four. The Bulldogs pressured quarterback Matt Mauck, but he scrambled to his right and found Skyler Green for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining.

The Bulldogs were planning man coverage on the play, and cornerback Tim Jennings appeared to lose Green when Mauck began scrambling to his right.

"I don't know what happened to him," said defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, whose unit held the nation's No. 4 scoring offense to 30 points less than its season average.

Green was supposed to cut his route short and pick whoever was covering star receiver Michael Clayton, but instead he ran a deep route into the end zone, LSU quarterback Matt Mauck said.

"It's called the 'What's he doing?, play,'" said Mauck, who was 14 of 29 for 180 yards.

Georgia outgained the Tigers 411 to 285, but VanGorder left the game discouraged.

"That last drive was a big drive," he said.

The Bulldogs as a whole left the game battered and bruised. Quarterback David Greene missed two series after hyperextending his right knee. He returned to the game and said afterward the injury is not considered major. All-American defensive end David Pollack joined Greene in the postgame training room after bruising his kneecap, but he is expected to be fine, Richt said.

The same can't be said necessarily for Georgia's offense.

Although Greene had his first 300-plus yard game since Vanderbilt last year after totaling 314 on 20 completions and a career-high 44 attempts, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on opportunity after opportunity. Georgia was inside the Tigers' 30-yard line five times but got only three points out of it.

"It wasn't a pretty game for us all the time, but you can't fault the effort, you can't fault the competitive spirit, you can't fault the three or four stops in the red area by our team and you can't fault the way the offense came back when it had to," LSU coach Nick Saban said.

Georgia took the lead on a 33-yard Bennett field goal with 6:20 left in the first quarter but trailed 10-3 at halftime after a 21-yard Shyrone Carey touchdown run and a 47-yard Ryan Gaudet field goal.

"We never quit at Georgia, but today they were a better team," said safety Sean Jones, who intercepted his third pass of the season.

Richt agreed that his team didn't quit and was heartened by that.

"I worry about a team that doesn't have enough heart at the end of the game to fight. That's not a problem with us. I worry about a team that doesn't have the talent to compete. That's not a problem with us. I worry about a team that doesn't have a coaching staff that has a good plan. That's not a problem with us," he said. "The problem was it came down to us not making the plays they made."

Georgia gets a week off to recover from this unaccustomed feeling. The Bulldogs will return to the field on Oct. 4, when they play Alabama in Sanford Stadium.

"We've got to get through the pain of this and then get a plan for Alabama," Richt said. "Alabama is not going to feel sorry for us."


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