Game Notes from the SEC Championship

ATLANTA — On a day for big numbers for Georgia, some of the biggest belonged to receiver Terrence Edwards, who became the SEC's all-time leader in receiving yards.

Terrence Edwards entered the game in third place in the records with 2,941 yards, trailing Vanderbilt's Boo Mitchell (2,964) and record-holder Josh Reed of LSU (3,001). Reed set the mark last season. Edwards caught seven passes for 92 yards in the game, leaving him with 3,033 yards.  Edwards is two touchdown passes behind the SEC record of 31 set by Florida's Chris Doering (1992-95).  

Edwards moved up a spot on the SEC records for career receptions. He now has 202 career catches, passing the second-place total of 200 by Vanderbilt's Keith Edwards (1980-84). Kentucky's Craig Yeast (1995-98) holds the record of 208.

This year, for the first time, bowl games will count in regular-season and career statistics.

Sack man: David Pollack beat Arkansas all-star offensive tackle Shawn Andrews to sack quarterback Matt Jones for a loss of six yards in the second quarter.  The sack is the 13th of the season for Pollack, moving him into a tie for the Georgia single-season record set by Mitch Davis in 1993.  Davis leads the SEC in sacks.  

Big start: In order to take full advantage of the dramatic home-field advantage, Georgia coach Mark Richt believed it was important to "do something good'' in the first quarter to pump up the Georgia fans.  The plan worked.  Georgia had at least 50,000 fans in the Georgia Dome, which holds 71,963, and the locals had reason to cheer early when Decory Bryant blocked a punt by Richie Butler after a strong start by the Bulldogs' defense. The ball was recovered by Bert Jones, who was tackled at the Arkansas 2.  One play later, Musa Smith scored and Georgia led 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.  Georgia scored 17 points in the first quarter, setting the SEC championship game record for points in a quarter.  In the 1995 game, Florida scored 14 points in a quarter in a win over Arkansas.  

SEC scoring record for Bennett: Billy Bennett needed only three points to match the SEC record for most points scored in a season by a kicker. Bennett blew past the mark with three field goals and two extra points in the first half.  Tennessee's Greg Burke (1990) and Florida's Judd Davis (1994) had shared the record of 107 points by a kicker.  Bennett's three field goals in the half matched the record for most field goals in any SEC championship game. Three other kickers had three field goals in a game.  

Gary ready for returns: An early surprise was Damien Gary being the choice to return punts for Georgia. After missing four games with a lower leg injury, Gary was thought to be ready for limited action at receiver, but he had indicated he would let Sean Jones continue his fill-in role for Gary as Georgia punt return specialist.  Gary was busy with three returns for 17 yards in the first quarter, thanks to the strong play of Georgia's defense. He did not catch a pass in the game.  

Starting off: Two starting positions — split guard and weakside linebacker —had been open for competition in practice this week.  Senior Alex Jackson started at the offensive guard spot over freshman Josh Brock, and junior Chris Clemons started ahead of freshman Tony Taylor at the outside linebacker position.  

A bow for the General: Legends of the SEC from each team were recognized before the game. Representing Georgia was "General'' George Patton, the captain of Georgia's 1966 SEC championship team.  Patton was a three-time All-SEC selection who normally played defensive tackle but also played quarterback, fulfilling a lifelong dream, in the 1966 Cotton Bowl win over Southern Methodist.  Patton played one year in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.  

Musical merry-go-round: Georgia and Arkansas went through the practice week knowing that the winner could go to the Sugar Bowl but also knowing the stakes were different for the losing team.  A Georgia loss would have meant a probable trip to the Capital One Bowl, formerly the Citrus Bowl. But for Arkansas, a loss means a probable trip to the Music City Bowl.  A year ago, however, Georgia was the team that felt jilted. Georgia beat Arkansas in the regular season and finished the regular season 8-3, but the best it could do in the bowl derby was the Music City in Nashville, Tenn. Meanwhile, Arkansas, at 7-4, received a Cotton Bowl bid.  Each team lost its bowl game last season, but this week Georgia players remembered feeling jilted when bowl bids were released.  "We beat Arkansas and we were higher ranked,'' Pollack said. "It hurt.'' Added Pollack: "We've been growing in this system more and more since last year. The disappointment was big, but the excitement is a lot more this year.''


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