Georgia 'D' Clamps Down On Herd, 13-3

Athens, Georgia-- "Offensively, we started doing some things better as the game went along," summed up Marshall coach Bob Pruett. Then, the truth came out about #3 Georgia: "But really, guys, they [Georgia] 've got a great defensive football team." The Georgia Bulldogs used that defense to keep Marshall at bay on Saturday in front of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium, and sent The Herd packing with a 13-3 loss...

The defensive match featured few scores on both sides of the ball, and they were far between. Marshall came out of the gate swinging, however. On the game's first play from scrimmage, quarterback Stan Hill dropped a 57-yard bomb on receiver Emanuel Spann. Eight plays later, and kicker Ian O'Connor booted a 33-yard field goal to give Marshall the early 3-0 lead.

Georgia coach Mark Richt knew he was in for a game, right about then.

"I really believe if you stuck Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee or LSU on their helmets, they'd fit right in with the best teams in our league," Richt said afterwards. "They've played everybody to the wire and could very easily be 3-0. I had a lot of respect for them going in and a lot of respect for them coming out."

Marshall defender Renaldo Williams put the clamps on Georgia back Thomas Brown. Williams had 6 tackles including 5 that were solo.

Georgia answered with 2:35 left in the first quarter, when Michael Cooper ran in from two yards out for a touchdown to give the 'Dawgs the 7-3 lead. Georgia's 'tailback by committee' system performed admirably on the day, with the four backs sharing 146 yards on the ground.

Cooper's TD would prove to be the only touchdown scored for the day by either team, highlighting the tough defensive play on both sides of the ball. And none was tougher than early in the third quarter. Marshall defensive back Chris Royal recovered a Tyson Browning fumble, giving Marshall the ball deep in Georgia territory on the 21 yard line. A UGA penalty advanced the ball to the 11 yard line, and three rushes by Earl Charles later, Marshall decided to go for it on fourth and one from the two yard line. Verdun Wheeler shut down the fourth down play and denied the Marshall touchdown.

"The goal-line stand was huge," Georgia defensive end David Pollack said. "Anytime there's points involved, it's huge."

Stan Hill agreed.

"They made a stand on us," said MU quarterback Stan Hill. "Probably the best defensive line in the nation, and they showed it today. We struggled at times [with that]."

"We felt like we needed to get a touchdown," added MU coach Pruett. "It would have given us momentum if we'd have gotten it."

Instead, momentum shifted Georgia's way for good. But not without a fight from the Marshall defense. Marshall allowed UGA only the one touchdown for the day, in addition to holding Georgia to just 3-of-14 third down conversions during the game.

"We got tired. They were able to run the ball some late in the game and move the ball more on offense," added Pruett of Georgia.

UGA kicker Andy Bailey added field goals of 33 and 29 yards to give the 'Dawgs the final 10-point advantage.

Marshall put 123 yards on the ground against Georgia, with Earl Charles leading the way with 33. Quarterback Stan Hill went 11-of-23 for 123 yards and no interceptions, but also no touchdowns. You have to look back to 2001 against Toledo to find the last time Marshall did not score a touchdown in a game. Hill spread the passes among Earl Charles (3 for 15 yards), Marcus Fitzgerald (2 for 18 yards), Brad Bates (2 for 2 yards) and the 57-yarder to Emanuel Spann to open the game.

Punter Ian O'Connor was a busy guy, hitting 7 punts for a 45.0 yard average per punt. O'Connor blazed a long 67-yard punt to pin the 'Dawgs, and placed one punt inside the 20 yard line.

Marshall may have ended the toughest three-game stretch in school history (Troy, Ohio State, Georgia) with an 0-3 record, but the record doesn't reflect the performance, according to Pruett. "We're the best 0-3 team I've ever been around," Pruett summed up after the game. "I don't think anybody today has anything to be ashamed of."

In fact, if not for the one big goal-line stand by Georgia in the third quarter, the game might have gone a different direction. However, UGA's stellar defense and Marshall's solid defense duked it out with the others' offense all day long, with the lone touchdown proving to be the difference-maker.

"That goal-line stand was fantastic and was probably the difference in the game," summed up Georgia coach Mark Richt.

The Herd now prepares for the opening game of Mid-American Conference play when the Miami of Ohio RedHawks visit Huntington for a ESPN game on Wednesday, September 29. Miami is the defending MAC champion.

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