Big 1st Touchdown for Freshman Center

Nick Jones

ATLANTA - There was nothing running through Nick Jones' mind when he saw the ball on the ground because there was no time to think.

Georgia's center saw the ball rolling on the ground and the reflexes just took over.

Nick Jones' fumble recovery in the Georgia Tech end zone gave the Bulldogs their first touchdown of the game on the way to a 34-17 victory on Saturday.

"I just tried to jump on it," Jones said. "It was just reaction. ... I was just kind of shocked when I scored."

With Georgia on Tech's 4-yard line, quarterback David Greene kept the ball and ran toward the left side of the field. Around the 2-yard line, the ball either just popped out or was jostled loose by Jackets linebacker Daryl Smith and bounced right into the end zone.

Jones, the closest player there from either team, was the first to pounce on it to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

"I was just following the play, looking for someone to block and the ball popped out," Jones said.

Even Greene didn't have much of an explanation of what exactly happened.

"I fumbled," he said. "I don't even know."

Greene pointed out a very similar play in Georgia's win over Auburn last season when Greene lost a fumble and former Georgia offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb recovered it for a score.

"Maybe Greene is the kind of guy who likes to share with his teammates; I don't know," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

The play was definitely the highlight of Jones' brief career. With a shoulder injury sidelining guard Bartley Miller, the true freshman from Bowdon stepped in as a starter against Auburn two games earlier, shifting former starting center Russ Tanner over to guard. Jones has continued to get better each game.

"Nick's really improving for us," said Richt, adding, "He might be the leading scorer among offensive linemen in the conference." Jones is the only non-skills player to score an offensive touchdown for the Bulldogs this season.

"He's done a great job," Greene said. "To be a freshman and start at center, he's the guy who has to make the calls for the entire line. He's done a good job."

Added Jones: "I think I've gotten better. I played better last week (against Kentucky), and I played better (against Tech). Russ has really helped me a lot. I feel more confident. I'm used to the atmosphere. It's a lot better than my first start."

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