Southerland's Return Powers Dawgs' FBs

ATHENS – Shaun Chapas hadn't scored a touchdown yet this season. Brannan Southerland hadn't played a down on offense.

So before Georgia kicked off against Tennessee on Saturday -- the game in which Southerland would return to action at fullback for the first time -- Chapas joked with his teammate that they might have to fight if Southerland found the end zone first.

"We were talking before the game and he said, ‘If you come back and get a touchdown today, (I'm) going to be mad,' just joking about it," Southerland said.

Of course, as fate would have it, that's exactly what happened -- in perhaps the most ironic of ways.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford hit Chapas on a screen pass in the first quarter of Georgia's 26-14 win over Tennessee that the fullback took down the sideline for 37 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the 1. Guess who got the goal-line carry?

"Sure enough, he got the screen down to the 1, and the next play I scored," Southerland said. "We came off the sideline and all we could do was laugh."

It was a warm welcome back to the offensive game plan for Southerland, who was also named a team captain for the game but didn't earn the starting nod over Chapas.

Southerland lined up at tight end several times during the game, too, and was targeted on several passes by Stafford.

Southerland finished with just the one carry for the touchdown and one reception for 10 yards, but he also dropped the first pass that was thrown his way.

"I got too excited," Southerland said. "I tried to go ahead and get upfield before I caught the ball. But it was good to get that one out of my system, and I was good to go after that."

Chapas finished with a career-high 64 yards receiving and had 10 yards rushing on two carries and had another chance at a touchdown in the second half, but was tripped up by the last defender between him and a long stretch of green to the end zone. That, however, is nothing new for the sophomore.

Against Central Michigan, Chapas was forced out of bounds at the 3 on a long reception. Against South Carolina, Southerland argued with coaches to give Chapas some goal-line carries to no avail. Against Arizona State, Chapas fell down on an easy touchdown reception at the 2-yard line, then failed to punch the ball in from inside the 1 late in the game.

"I'm not too worried about it," Chapas said. "It'll come, I'm sure of it."

So, too, is Southerland. And when it finally happens, he said, it will be worth the wait.

"We're going to celebrate big-time when Shaun gets into the end zone," Southerland said.

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