Thomas Brown Redeems Himself in Big Way

TAMPA, Fla. - When Thomas Brown fumbled a screen pass in the first quarter of Saturday's 24-21 victory over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, Georgia coach Mark Richt didn't say a word.

After Thomas Brown redeemed himself with 111 yards rushing " including 49 on the game-clinching, clock-killing final drive Richt had plenty to say.

"We were blocking the right people," Richt said. "We were getting decent movement on that last drive, especially. But Thomas Brown's effort and ability was really the difference in being able to finish that game the way we did."

Brown carried 16 times and scored a touchdown on a 29-yard run in the third quarter to put Georgia up 24-6. He also had 44 yards receiving on four catches. But the final drive was where he made his mark.

Wisconsin cut Georgia's lead to three with just more than four minutes to play on an interception return and two-point conversion, and Georgia started the ensuing drive on its own 39. The Badgers had two timeouts remaining, and Georgia had managed just eight yards of offense on the previous three drives.

The Bulldogs needed a first down. Brown ran for three.

On second-and-2, he gained 14 yards, He picked up 15 on the next play, then nine more on the following three carries to set up fourth-and-1 at the Wisconsin 15. Richt, with a little prompting from offensive coordinator Neil Calloway, elected to go for it rather than kick a field goal and put the pressure on his defense with 1:38 to play.

"Everybody wanted to go for it. We felt like if we got the first down, the game was over," Richt said.

So on fourth down, as he had the previous five plays, Brown got the call. "I was thinking I only had about six inches to go, so I was patient and followed my blocks," Brown said.

Eleven yards later, the Badgers hauled him down at the 4-yard line and Georgia's victory was assured. 
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez conceded that Brown's running made the difference.

"He's extremely quick. We missed a lot of tackles, but I think he had a lot to do with our missed tackles," Alvarez said. "He finds a seam, never stops his feet from running and is always moving north and south. We had the momentum and he made some plays. He made it happen for them."

Brown's first two carries of the game went for 20 yards, but his third touch ended in the fumble. Wisconsin took over at the Georgia 22 and tied the game at 3 four plays later. Brown and fellow freshman Danny Ware platooned most of the game, but it was all Brown with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.

"I was really disappointed with myself with the fumble in the first quarter, and I just kept telling myself I was going to redeem myself as soon as I got the chance," Brown said. "When the opportunity came, I just made sure I took care of my business."

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