Overtime Heartbreak

JACKSONVILLE – Tavarres King stayed on the ground for nearly a minute, with no teammates around.

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He composed himself just enough to get on one knee, continuing to stare at the painful scene.

"I kind of couldn't move there for a second," the Georgia receiver would say later. "It was kind of surreal."

Florida celebrating after a win over Georgia had become custom here. This time, however, was different. This was worse.

It was not a blowout, as the previous two have been. In fact for the first time the Georgia-Florida game went to overtime. But it still ended with Georgia on the losing end, 34-31.

"It was just real heartbreaking," King said.

Three times, Georgia rallied to tie it, including after a 14-point halftime deficit. And when the game went overtime, the Bulldogs seemed to have the advantage: Its field goal kicker is one of the best in the country, while Florida was using its punter.

And yet, the Bulldogs still lost, for the 18th time in the past 21 years.

Afterwards, Georgia head coach Mark Richt, now 2-8 against Florida, was asked a simple question: How do you beat these guys?

"You win a game like this," Richt said. "But we didn't do it. We'll be back."

They may be, but not this season, at least as far as the SEC race is concerned. The Bulldogs (4-5 overall, 3-4 in the SEC) were eliminated from contention in the SEC East, which is now a two-team race between Florida (5-3, 3-3) and South Carolina.

Now, just becoming bowl-eligible becomes the Bulldogs' way of salvaging something from their season.

"It's definitely not a great feeling, but this team has fought back all year," freshman quarterback Aaron Murray said. "We could've quit three or four weeks ago, but we didn't. So this team has a lot of fight in them, and we're gonna keep fighting."

At times, it was a tough debut in Jacksonville for Murray, who turned it over four times. In eight previous games, he only had three turnovers.

His final one, in overtime, was the most crucial. On third down, his pass was tipped and picked off, then nearly returned for a game-ending touchdown. King managed to cut Will Hill off just before the goal-line.

But Florida still had its possession, and after three plays sent out Chas Henry. One of the nation's best punters, Henry had struggled to replace the injured Caleb Sturgis in field-goal kicking duties.

So the latest chapter in Georgia's sad history in Jacksonville saw a punter, who had been struggling with field goals, win the game on a 37-yarder.

Florida head coach Urban Meyer put it bluntly.

"It was Chas Henry hitting a damn field goal. Think about that for a minute," Meyer said.

Murray's third turnover, and his first fumble of the season, loomed large for awhile.

It was tied at seven midway through the second quarter, and Georgia had first down at the Florida 41. Murray went back, then kept going back until he fumbled – resulting in a 20-yard sack, and 10 more yards lost on the fumble. Florida recovered at the 29, and eventually punched in the go-ahead score.

That gave the Gators a 21-7 lead at the break. But Georgia receiver A.J. Green said the message at halftime was simple.

"Keep doing what you're doing, they're not stopping us," Green said. "The biggest thing is the turnovers."

The first four drives of the second half produced Georgia three touchdowns and a field goal. When Florida answered one to re-take the lead, 31-24, Georgia came back with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Green.

The last minute of regulation proved a bit dramatic: A Florida punt pinned the Bulldogs at their own 4 with 54 seconds left, and the Gators had all three timeouts. Georgia took a risk by throwing for it on second down, resulting in an incompletion.

But the Georgia defense held firm when Florida took possession with 30 seconds left, and it was on to overtime.

Green was just asked about not being able to finish it.

"It's hurting my heart right now," Green said. "We put a lot of work into this season to turn this thing around. And just to go out like this man, it's hard to swallow."


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