Johnson blossoming

ATHENS — Georgia expected to put a few new faces in the end zone against Louisiana-Monroe, but Charles Johnson didn't he would be one of them.

The 6-foot-2, 264-pound defensive end from Hawkinsville recovered a fumble in the end zone during Georgia's 44-7 victory on Saturday. It was the first touchdown of his career, and Georgia's first defensive touchdown since 2003.

"It feels great," Johnson said. "My first touchdown ever; first touchdown in the big leagues of college. It feels great.

"I got one."

The sophomore's chance to "get one" came late in the third quarter. With the Indians facing third-and-19 from their own 9-yard line, quarterback Steven Jyles dropped back to pass. Junior defensive end Quentin Moses broke through and knocked the ball from Jyles' hand, and it rolled backward into the end zone where Johnson recovered.

"I just tried to dive on it and get a touchdown," said Johnson, who has five tackles and two sacks in three games this season. The play was briefly reviewed by officials, the second use of instant replay in the game.

"When it happened, I thought it was going to get overturned," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "But it was a great job by the official being right there, seeing everyone real close and making the call."

Richt seemed overjoyed for Johnson.

"Charles Johnson, he's coming," Richt said. "He's one of those kind of guys, when you get him in camp and start looking at him, you realize he's built like one of those kind of guys who has the qualities to play pretty good."

Richt said Johnson has progressed since his freshman season, when he played in nine games and recorded six tackles and a sack.

"The thing he did from last year to this year was to understand better what we expect," Richt said. "He got in great condition."

Johnson's score was Georgia's ninth defensive touchdown since Richt became head coach. The Bulldogs last defensive score came on a 99-yard interception return by Odell Thurman against Auburn two seasons ago, when Johnson was leading Hawkinsville to the GHSA Class A state championship.

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