In a SEC football game that seemed almost devoid of defense at times and where it looked like the first team to 50 points might win, that's exactly what happened.
Georgia's Joe Cox and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett both set school records with 5 touchdown passes each, but the Bulldogs ended up winning 52-41 Saturday night before 74,210 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Mallett was 21-of-39 passing while throwing for an Arkansas single-game school record of 408 yards, but Cox was 18-of-26 and had 375 yards of his own while benefitting from the Bulldogs out-rushing Arkansas 155-77.
"We did a lot of good things and I am sure we are going to see on the video we did a lot of bad things," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "I was proud of the way our football team prepared for the game. We were certainly ready to play. I thought we ready to play mentally and physically focused and took the field the way you were supposed to take the field. We just didn't score enough points to win the game."
The win moved Georgia (2-1, 2-0) into the early lead in the SEC East while the Razorbacks (1-1, 0-1) could not build off of their 48-10 season-opening win over Missouri State.
That was in no small part to having 11 penalties for 100 yards - several of which gave Georgia - which had 14 of its own for 93 yards - seconds chances that they took advantage of for points.
"We were better in this game, but not good enough to win," Petrino said. "However, we can't beat ourselves. We had some blown assignments and a lot of penalties. We can't have that happened."
Richard Samuel rushed for 104 yards to lead the Bulldogs while super soph receiver A.J. Green shredded the Razorback defense for 137 yards on 7 catches.
Georgia had 530 yards total offense to 485 for Arkansas.
"I'm very disappointed in the defense," Petrino said. "We wanted to take Green out of the game, but we weren't able to do that, especially when Jerry Franklin was ejected (in the second quarter)."
It was a game that was the fifth-highest scoring game ever between two SEC squads and the most combined points in a game at Razorback Stadium.
"We certainly know how to keep thing exciting," noted Georgia head coach Marc Richt, whose team beat South Carolina 41-38 last week. "I was happy with the way our guys went out and competed. I'm so thankful for the heart and spirit of this football team, and it was a spirited victory tonight. I still don't feel like we have reached our full potential, but we're getting there."
Mallett's 5 TDs went to 4 different receivers with Greg Childs (5 catches, 140 yards) hauling in a pair and Jarius Wright (4 for 108), D.J. Williams (4 for 58) and Joe Adams (3 for 55) all had one each.
"They are playmakers and they showed that time and time again," Mallett said. "They made great plays when I got the ball anywhere near them. They had a great game."
Petrino was pleased with what he saw from his quarterback in just his second start at Arkansas.
"Ryan gave us a chance to win the game today," Petrino said. "He prepared all week and the week before really well. He obviously showed he could throw the ball well and he showed he could make some plays."
Mallett's 408 yards passing was also a single game record.
"It's nice I gues, but it doesn't matter," Mallett said. "I don't care about individual stats. We lost the game. That's all that matters."
Richt was quick to give his signal caller praise as well with Cox stepping in this season for the departed Matthew Stafford, the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.
"Joe was great tonight," Richt said. "I thought he did a great job with his decision making. There was only one play that I can remember where he should've checked down or done something differently, but other than that he was great."
Arkansas led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter before Georgia threw 17 unanswered points to take a 27-21 advantage into the locker room.
The Razorbacks then rallied for a 35-34 lead when Mallett hit Williams on a 2-yarder with 5:15 left in the third quarter.
But the Bulldogs answered in 41 seconds on Cox' TD to Orson Charles – the first of the freshman's career - and never trailed again.
A 28-yard scoring toss from Cox to Green with 10:46 left made it 49-38.
"A.J. opened things up for us all night," Richt said. "When you have a big guy like that over the top, it really makes the defense vulnerable. We took advantage of that."
The Razorbacks got to the Georgia 6 on the ensuing possession, but chose to have Alex Tejada kick a field goal with 7:21 left in the game to cut their deficit to 49-41.
It would have been a 4th-and-goal from the 6.
While the defense made one of its few stops on the night, Georgia's answered right back with a 3-and-out of its own.
When Dylan Breeding's shanked punt was downed at the Arkansas 30, Georgia then threw the knockout punch.
It was a 31-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 2:10 left that effectively put the game out of reach.
"When you are in a shootout like that, you can't afford to take a play off," Petrino said.
That's what Georgia wideout Michael Moore thought as well.
"I felt like the last team to have possession was going to win the game," Moore said. "It was almost identical to last week."
Arkansas was stopped on the initial possession of the game, but Razorback linebacker Wendel Davis recovered a fumble punt to set his team right up.
Four plays later, Mallett hit Adams on post pattern for an 18-yard TD toss as the UA went up 7-0 at the 12:23 mark.
Georgia answered right back with Cox hitting Aron White on a 21-yard strike for a 7-7 tie with 9:56 still left in the opening quarter.
After a bit of kickoff return trickery that resulted in freshman Cobi Hamilton getting to the Bulldogs 48, Mallett simply went up top on the first place to Wright for another score.
"Our receivers did a great job for us tonight, made a lot of plays," Petrino said. "A lot of plays."
Tejada's PAT had Arkansas ahead 14-7 - a score coming just 19 seconds after the visitiors had been in end zone.
Walsh's 35-yard field goal got it to within 14-10 with 2:26 left, but that would not be the last points of a wild first quarter.
That would occur when Mallett's 30-yard toss was hauled in on a tremendous diving catch by Greg Childs in the end zone.
Tejada's PAT surged the Razorbacks 21-10 with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter.
That was all the points Arkansas would score in the first half as Georgia put up the next 17 to take the lead into halftime.
Samuel's 80-yard TD run at the 10:56 mark and Cox' 25-yard scoring toss to Green with 7:11 before intermission put the Dogs up 24-21.
Sameuel's run was straight up the middle and came very soon after Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin had been ejected.
Walsh would add a 37-yard field goal as time expired that made it 27-21, but that was actually a break for the Razorbacks.
Mallett's pass to Childs was at first ruled a fumble and Georgia ran it in for touchdown, but was overruled after a review.
Arkansas struck first in the second half with Mallett and Childs hooking up on a 40-yard strike and Tejada's boot giving the home team a 28-27 lead with 9:37 showing in the 3rd quarter.
That didn't last long as Cox hit Tavarres King on a 50-yard toss. A two-point conversion failed leaving the visitors ahead 33-28.
Mallett's answer was a 2-yard TD pass to Williams for a 35-34 advantage.
Georgia then delivered what turned out to be a knockout blow when Green made a spectacular catch on a 28-yard scoring toss from Cox.
That and Walsh's PAT gave the Bulldogs a 49-38 lead with 10:46 left in the game.
Things get no easier for the Razorbacks next week when they must travel to Alabama (3-0), coming off a 52-7 thumping of North Texas on Saturday.
"It was a great game from start to finish," Mallett said. "It definitely hurts to lose a game like that. We played well, but we can get better. We have to just put this behind us and get ready for Alabama."
Greg Childs makes a spectacular TD catch.
Ryan Mallett had school records of 408 yards passing and 5 TDs.
Georgia 52, Arkansas 41
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