ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia lost another top defensive starter when senior cornerback Tim Wansley suffered a broken leg at the end of a 52-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Wansley already had one punt return for a touchdown called back by a holding penalty when he broke free again. Fielding the punt at his 6, Wansley was tackled at the Houston 42 by Leif Penn. Wansley, Georgia's top cornerback, last year shared the Southeastern Conference lead with six interceptions.
Coach Mark Richt said it was "very questionable'' Wansley would be able to
return in time for a bowl game.
The good news is Wansley should make a full recovery.
"I don't think it's going to affect him in any way in his NFL career,'' Richt said.
The break occurred three or four inches above Wansley's ankle. Georgia already has lost defensive tackle David Jacobs to a stroke and defensive end Bruce Adrine to a knee injury.
Wansley was given an ovation when he left the Sanford Stadium field on crutches with 6:30 left in the first half. After Wansley's injury, Decory Bryant, Dantra Clements and Bruce Thornton saw most of the playing time at the two cornerback spots with the first-team defense.
Share of records for Edwards:
With his 49-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, Terrence Edwards tied the school record for the most career scoring receptions.
Edwards matched Brice Hunter's mark of 19 career touchdown catches. Hunter set the record from 1992-94.
"I'm happy he got the record,'' Richt said. "He deserves the record. He's beginning to play like he's been practicing.''
With four catches for 107 yards, Edwards also matched Hunter's school record with his seventh career game with 100 yards receiving, but freshman Fred Gibson is coming on fast with five 100-yard games in his first season. Edwards and Gibson each have six touchdown catches this season.
Shaking off the rust:
Quarterback Cory Phillips had eight games to think about throwing an interception on his last pass. Appearing in a relief role behind David Greene against South Carolina in the second game of the season, an interception by Phillips helped end Georgia's hopes of beating the Gamecocks.
Finally against Houston, Phillips returned in the third quarter and completed 4 of 9 passes for 39 yards, including a 10-yard scoring pass to Jarrett Berry.
"Yeah, it has been a long eight games,'' Phillips said.
For Berry, a sophomore from Lyons, Ga., the touchdown catch on a fade route was his first career reception. He had played previously as a blocker.
Nice debut for Richt:
No Georgia coach had won as many as eight games in his first season since H.J. Stegeman's Bulldogs went 8-0-1 in 1920 to win the Southern Conference championship.
Vince Dooley was 7-3-1 in his 1964 debut, including a Sun Bowl victory over
Senior Josh Mallard added a sack in his final regular-season game, leaving him with 18 for his career - fifth in Georgia's career records. Mallard and junior Charles Grant have been competing for bragging rights on the sacks list this season, but Grant was shut out against Houston, leaving him with 15.
Johnathan Sullivan added two sacks against Houston, giving him four for the season. Grant still leads the team with six sacks this season, followed by Mallard's five.
Backup defensive end Will Thompson, a redshirt freshman from Warner Robins, Ga., added his first career sack to give Georgia four for the game.
Numbers for Greene:
Greene moved to third on the school records for most yards passing in a season with 2,789. Eric Zeier had the two highest totals in school history - 3,525 in 1993 and 3,396 in 1994. Greene matched his career high with three touchdown passes, giving him 17 for the season - fourth on the school records.
Receiver Damien Gary was held out, as expected, with a sprained knee. ... Tight end Ben Watson caught his first touchdown pass, a 49-yarder in the third quarter that also is his longest career reception. ... Houston senior Orlando Inglesias became the school's all-time leading receiver. His six catches for 48 yards gave him 222 career receptions, passing Manny Hazard's previous record of 220.