Redemption for All-American in 1st Start.
Kregg Lumpkin
Kregg Lumpkin
Dawgpost.com
Posted Jan 1, 2004


ORLANDO, Fla. - When running back Tyson Browning told teammate Kregg Lumpkin that he was starting the Capital One Bowl, Lumpkin didn't believe it. If Browning could have told Lumpkin how his day was going to go, he certainly wouldn't have believed that.

The true freshman started the first game of his collegiate career, looked like a future All-American in the first half, then fumbled late to set up Purdue's game-tying score, then scored the winning touchdown in a 34-27 overtime win.

"I take some satisfaction, but it's always going to be on my heart to fumble in a big game like this," Kregg Lumpkin said.

Georgia led 27-24 at the time of Lumpkin's fumble, which was recovered at the Bulldogs' 34-yard line, and Lumpkin walked off the field thinking he had lost the game. Even after Georgia held Purdue to a field goal and forced overtime, Coach Mark Richt noticed Lumpkin on the sideline with his head hung low.

"I said you can't be down now, we might need you to win this game," Coach Mark Richt said.

Quarterback David Greene gave Lumpkin a similar pep talk prior to the overtime drive. After the game, as a jubilant Greene was running off the field, he slapped Lumpkin on the head and said, "I told you we were going to do it."

Lumpkin had nothing to feel bad about after the first half, in which he had 69 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving, but, like the rest of the offense, he slowed in the second half. He rushed for minus-1 yard in the third quarter.

"I think he lost a little focus," Richt said. "He quit running it as aggressively as he was in the first half. He was kind of tip-toeing, he didn't really hammer it like I would have liked him to."

Lumpkin finished with 90 yards on 27 carries. Despite the fumble, he established himself as Georgia's back of the future. His 27 carries were the most any Bulldog back got in one game this season. He said he saw his start as a sign of the coaches' confidence in him and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

"Today I think I took a big step," he said.

"I thought he did well," running backs coach Ken Rucker said. "The turnover bothered him a bunch, but just like this football team, he's resilient and he came back."

Lumpkin said he will use the memory of his fumble to motivate him throughout the offseason.

"This game was a building block for next year," he said.

TheInsiders.com All-American out of Stephenson High School, played in 12 games this year and finished with 523 yards on 112 carries and a team-best 4.6-yard per carry average.

The fumble kept him from becoming the Bulldogs' first 100-yard rusher this season. He had 24 carries for 107 yards prior to the drop but he was penalized 18 yards because of where Purdue recovered his turnover. It was the first time since 1972 Georgia hasn't gone an entire season without a 100-yard rusher.

"We want to end that streak," he said.

He'll probably be the first one to get a chance.


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