Bennett has rough day

BATON ROUGE, La. - Georgia couldn't help feeling like it lost Saturday's game to LSU in the first half, and place-kicker Billy Bennett couldn't help thinking it was his fault.

Entering Saturday, Billy Bennett had missed three field goals in the previous seven games. He missed three in the first half of Saturday's 17-10 loss.

"It was pretty terrible," he said. "I just missed them. It wasn't the snap, it wasn't the hold, it wasn't the line, it wasn't the other team, I missed the field goals."

Bennett, who is on the watch list of the Lou Groza Award for the nation's top kicker, opened the game's scoring with a 33-yard field goal to cap Georgia's second drive and put the Bulldogs up 3-0. It appeared he had extended that lead to 6-0 when he hit a 43-yarder with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.

However, offsetting penalties on the play (Georgia was called for an illegal formation) negated the kick. Bennett missed the redo. He then missed a 42-yarder wide right on the Bulldogs' next drive and hit the left upright on a 36-yard attempt with 44 seconds left in the half.

"I don't think I've missed three in practice," he said. "I was hoping I didn't feel like it came down to those nine points. We lost by seven."'

Georgia coach Mark Richt refused to lay the blame at the feet of his kicker.

"We've been taking Billy Bennett for granted around here for a long time," Richt said. "He's been making those kicks."

Richt realized their was plenty of blame to be shared by his offense, which rolled up 411 yards but managed just three points on five trips inside the LSU 30-yard line. All five of those trips came in the first half.

"Anytime you play a good team like LSU, you can't fall short, especially down in the red zone," Georgia quarterback David Greene said. "We shot ourselves in the foot."

The Bulldogs' defense did all it could in the first half to give the offense time to get on track. After LSU marched into Georgia territory on the opening drive of the game, the Bulldogs didn't allow a first down on the Tigers' next six drives.

"It was definitely a tough half for us," receiver Damien Gary said. "That first half really set the tone for us. It was hard to bounce back from that."

None of Georgia's first five drives of the second half gained more than 27 yards.

Gary and Reggie Brown each had seven catches. Gary had 80 yards, and Brown had 78 yards, but both dropped passes that would have extended drives, or, in Gary's case, scored a touchdown.

Michael Cooper led Georgia's rushing effort with 73 yards on 18 carries.

Greene said the pressure the Tigers brought on most every play made it tough for the offense to establish a rhythm.

"They pretty much blitzed the house all day," he said. "They just made more plays than we did."

The game ended on Georgia's second turnover of the game, an interception by Corey Webster of a pass intended for Reggie Brown.

"We took a chance, and they won," Greene said.

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