Turnovers Costly in Bulldogs Loss

JACKSONVILLE, FL—Georgia's last offensive play ended just like it's first.

Quarterback Aaron Murray's last pass went to the wrong team, just like his first did, both on passes in the direction of star receiver A.J. Green.

The final turnover set up a game-winning field goal by Florida in a thrilling 34-31 overtime victory.

"It was not a great feeling at all, a worst nightmare," Murray said of that last interception.

In a game where the two rivals essentially stalemated in many statistical categories, Georgia blew perhaps the most important: The turnover battle.

The Bulldogs lost one fumble, and Murray threw three interceptions as the Gators only had one turnover total.

Florida maintained premium field position and had extra scoring chances as the end result of the costly Georgia miscues.

"That's a big situation," said Georgia junior linebacker Justin Houston. "Any time you lose the turnover game, it's going to be hard to win the game."

On Murray's first passing attempt on the first play of the game, Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins jumped in front of a pass intended for Green.

After only five seconds had run off the clock, Florida has the ball at the Bulldogs' 29-yard-line. In momentum-swinging fashion the Georgia defense forced a field goal, missed by Florida kicker Chas Henry.

The first turnover was a crises averted. But the initial offensive blunder would not be first, nor would the rest of the breaks go Georgia's way.

In the second quarter, tied 7-7, Murray fumbled after a Florida blitz caused a sack.

The Gators recovered at the Georgia 29 and used the short field to go up by seven.

Another Murray interception on the next Bulldogs' drive gave the Gators the ball inside the 50 again. Another touchdown would be the result.

On two of Florida's three first-half scoring drives, the Gators started inside the 50-yard-line with a short field to work with. The Georgia offense certainly did its defensive counterparts no favors.

"We got to do what we've got to do as a defense," sophomore cornerback Branden Smith, who had an interception of his own in the first half, said. "We're like the backbone of the team, basically. Whatever field position we get, we just have to go out there and play hard no matter. We have to stop them."

Despite playing a fairly even half statistically, Georgia trailed at the half 21-7. Murray, a redshirt freshman getting his first taste of the bitter rivalry, accounted for all three turnovers in the opening half.

Georgia coach Mark Richt defended Murray's play after the game.

"I'm not trying to say it was so-and-so's fault," Richt said. "I think the point I was making is I don't think (Murray) was making mistakes out of immaturity or being a first-year starter or anything like that. I just think sometimes those things happen."

In the second half, Murray and the rest of his Georgia teammates settled down. There were no turnovers in the third or fourth quarter as the Bulldogs stormed back to tie and take the game into overtime.

"I told the guys at halftime, I said, ‘This is one of these games where I can promise you if you kind of treat it like it's 0-to-0 and start from scratch again and just start playing hard on both sides of the ball we'll get back in this thing and win it,'" Richt said. "We almost did."

But a turnover would end Georgia's offensive effort in overtime, just like the first play of the game.

On the Bulldogs first possession in overtime, Murray tried to squeeze a third-down pass attempt in to Green. The throw was picked by Will Hill and nearly returned for a game winning score.

"We knew coming into the game the windows were going to be tight," Murray said. "You just got to put it on the money. If you don't they're going to tip it and make plays. They were able to do that."

The defense was put in the same backs-against-the-wall position, thrown into the overtime fire in an attempt to bail the offense out one more time. But this time Henry hit the field goal. This time, the turnover ultimately cost Georgia a chance to win the game, as Florida won by three, taking the 18th victory in the last 21 tries over the Bulldogs.

"You just can't turn it over," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "It kills momentum. It gives them an extra series, an extra shot at play. You can't do that and expect to win."

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