College Football: Georgia 45, Georgia Southenr 21
ATHENS, Ga. ó The collar fit, and for at least one game, so did the crown.
Matthew Stafford threw for a career-high 275 yards with two touchdowns and Georgia, ranked No. 1 to start a season for the first time, beat Georgia Southern 45-21 on Saturday to give new mascot Uga VII a win in his debut.
Stafford completed 13 of 21 passes without an interception and Knowshon Moreno ran for three touchdowns on only eight carries as the Bulldogs scored the first 38 points.
Moreno matched his career high for touchdowns and added two catches for 53 yards.
Georgia coach Mark Richt hinted his players may have handled the No. 1 hype better than he did.
“I’d just as soon not go through it again, to be honest with you,” Richt said. “It did get pretty tiresome.”
Georgia led 38-0 before Georgia Southern scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Lee Chapple late in the third quarter.
Uga VII, a white English bulldog and son of Uga VI, who died this summer, drew a standing ovation and University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletic director Damon Evans slipped a red collar over the dog’s head in a pregame ceremony.
“It’s a job where you are always second to a dog,” Adams said.
From the opening minutes, Stafford found open receivers as Georgia Southern focused on Moreno and the Georgia running game.
Freshman receiver A.J. Green made a 36-yard catch to set up Moreno’s first touchdown, a 2-yard run. Green added a 3-yard touchdown catch from Joe Cox for Georgia’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Stafford threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Kris Durham in the second quarter and had a 5-yard scoring pass to Demiko Goodman in the third quarter.
Green wasn’t the only Georgia freshman to play a prominent role.
Freshman tailback Caleb King led Georgia with 12 carries for 95 yards. First-year tailback Richard Samuel added six carries for 34 yards.
Georgia, playing with four new starting offensive linemen, had 535 total yards.
“All three guys ran the ball well,” Stafford said. “It’s a testament to our offensive line. A lot of times we got to the second level without being touched. This is what we were looking for, and it’s what we got today.”