Brown powers Dawgs past Ole Miss

ATHENS – With the momentum of a game and maybe even a season bearing down on it, No. 15 Georgia turned to its strongest player to carry the weight.

Senior running back Thomas Brown did that and more, rushing for a career-high 180 yards in a 45-17 victory over Ole Miss in front of 92,746 fans in Sanford Stadium.

Watch Thomas Brown run wild on Ole Miss Below

"This was the performance that he has worked so hard to have," said running backs coach Tony Ball. "I think all the hard work he has endured over the last four years, today was the sweet payday for him. He has to really feel good about this today."

Brown averaged 11.2 yards on 16 carries and had touchdown runs of 50, 4 and 41 yards in becoming the first Georgia player to rush for more than 150 yards since Verron Haynes had 207 against Georgia Tech in 2001. It was the second three-touchdown game of his career.

"It's probably the first game since my freshman year that I used all my God-given ability," said Brown, who missed the last half of 2006 due to a torn ACL. "I'm not at all satisfied, not at all comfortable with where I am, but I'm glad I'm getting better."

The Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 SEC) rushed for 328 yards as a group, their most since gaining the same amount against the same opponent in 1991. They gained 472 yards overall, their most since the Louisiana-Monroe game in 2005, against the nation's 107th-ranked defense.

Brown, who posted his first 100-yard rushing game since early in the 2005 season, entered the game known more for his records in the weight room than his highlights on the field. He is team's second-leading rusher behind redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno, and Coach Mark Richt has had to explain his decision to keep Brown in the starting role.

"I felt like we were doing the right thing," Richt said. "I'm just glad for him. It was Knowshon who was making some of the exciting runs in space and now Thomas had a chance to do it, too, and I'm happy for that."

Even Ole Miss came in thinking Moreno was the bigger threat, Coach Ed Orgeron acknowledged.

"Against Alabama, he was," Orgeron said.

Despite what the final score might indicate, the Bulldogs needed every bit of Brown's offense.

The Rebels (1-4, 0-3) trailed 17-10 at halftime but had outplayed the Bulldogs in every phase of the game. If not for an Ole Miss fumble on first-and-goal at the Bulldogs' 1-yard line and Brown's 50-yard run on third-and-19, Ole Miss would have been leading at the break.

When the Rebels drove 84 yards in 18 plays on the opening possession of the second half to tie the game, Ole Miss seemed to be in control. At that point, the Rebels had outgained Georgia 320-266.

"They came in here, and they wanted it," said linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who led Georgia with eight tackles. "They didn't respect us, and I wouldn't respect us either when we come outhere and play like that. We really didn't take it as seriously as we should have."

Georgia's defense finally rallied behind an interception by senior linebacker Brandon Miller, which was sandwiched between touchdown drives from the offense, each capped by a Brown scoring run.

"I'm glad we could win the game and not play our best (defense)," Richt said. "Now, we can hopefully use that for the future."

The Rebels averaged 5.7 yards per play on the way to 386 yards of offense but broke down across the board in the second half. They had nine penalties for 77 yards.

"It is obvious now we do not have SEC-caliber players," said Oregeron, whose two best defenders, defensive linemen Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy each were limited by injury (Jerry) or suspension (Hardy).

Georgia now heads to Knoxville, Tenn., to play Tennessee.

"We're in the (SEC) race," Richt said. "That's what we wanted."

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