2:00 PM ET, October 18, 2003
Vanderbilt Stadium, NASHVILLE, TN
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Some of the Georgia Bulldogs think they came out a little flat Saturday against the Southeastern Conference's worst team. Coach Mark Richt has another theory.
"Personally, I just think Vanderbilt outplayed us," Richt said.
RB Kregg Lumpkin and Georgia fumbled around in the first 30 minutes, trailing 2-0 at half.
The Bulldogs (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) trailed 2-0 at halftime before Michael Cooper, Tyson Browning and Ronnie Powell had second-half touchdown runs in a 27-8 victory over Vanderbilt, which clinched the Commodores' 21st consecutive losing season.
The defending Southeastern Conference champion Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) were coming off an emotional rout of Tennessee in front of more than 107,000 last week. On Saturday, only 27,823 fans were in the stands, and thankfully, most of them wore Georgia red.
Georgia guard Bartley Miller said the Bulldogs know they shouldn't pay attention to such stuff.
"We were lackadaisical," he said.
The Commodores (1-7, 0-4) sacked David Greene six times and intercepted a pass in holding the SEC's third-best offense to 343 yards. Georgia had been averaging 408.5 yards and had just 64 yards by halftime, including only 8 in the second quarter.
It was the first time the Bulldogs have been shut out through halftime since 1999 against Auburn.
"It had to be the most embarrassing thing that we've had this year," Browning said.
If Vandy had managed any offense, the Commodores might have had their first victory over a Top 10 opponent since 1974. But the nation's stingiest defense held Vandy to 218 yards to win its ninth straight and 16th out of the last 18 in this series.
"I'm very grateful to have a victory," Richt said. "I'm very impressed how Vanderbilt came out ready to play, especially defensively. They did a great job on our offensive line. I felt that was the difference in the first half. Their defensive line just beat up our offensive line pretty good."
Georgia took its first lead at 3-2 midway through the third when Billy Bennett's 40-yard field goal capped a 15-play drive. Cooper added a 6-yard run for a 10-2 lead later in the third as Georgia scored on three straight possessions.
Vanderbilt drove to the Georgia 23 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but backup quarterback Stephen Bright, with starter Jay Cutler out for a series with a concussion, missed receiver Brandon Smith with a pass on fourth-and-3.
Georgia answered with its longest drive of the game, a 77-yarder that ended with Browning's 23-yard run with 9:48 left.
The Commodores pulled to 20-8 with a 25-yard TD toss from Cutler to Matthew Tant with 1:06 left, and they tried an onside kick. But Sean Jones picked it up on the hop and ran 39 yards to the 2, setting up Powell's clinching TD.
Greene finished 19-of-30 for 208 yards.
Vandy coach Bobby Johnson said his Commodores played well, just not good enough.
"When you play against the No. 4 team in the nation, you cannot have dropped passes, fumbles or bad passes. We have to start taking those chances and capitalizing when our opponents give them to us," he said.
Georgia started slowly and was shut out in the first quarter for the first time since Dec. 1, 2001, against Houston. The Bulldogs held the ball for only four minutes, and it got worse in the second.
The Commodores downed two consecutive punts at the Bulldogs 4, and Georgia went three-and-out on each possession. The Bulldogs were sluggish on offense, even picking up a delay-of-game penalty coming out of a time-out just before halftime.
If Vandy had managed any kind of offense, the Commodores' lead could've been bigger. Their only points came on Ralph McKenzie's sack of Greene in the end zone with 5:12 left in the second quarter.
Greene said it could have been worse.
"I was about to throw a slant, but that probably would have been picked for seven points instead of two," he said.
|3rd Down Conversions||8-16||3-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|S||5:12||RALPH MCKENZIE SAFETY||0||2|
|FG||8:55||BILLY BENNETT 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 15 plays, 57 yards.
|TD||2:57||MICHAEL COOPER 6 YD RUN (BILLY BENNETT KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||9:48||TYSON BROWNING 23 YD RUN (BILLY BENNETT KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yards.
|FG||2:51||BILLY BENNETT 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 45 yards.
|TD||1:06||MATTHEW TANT 25 YD PASS FROM JAY CUTLER (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||0:52||RONNIE POWELL 2 YD RUN (BILLY BENNETT KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 2 yards.