3:00 PM ET, September 4, 2004
Sanford Stadium, ATHENS, GA
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia went through all of last season without a 100-yard runner.
Of course, the Bulldogs didn't have Danny Ware then.
Making quite a college debut, Ware rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns to lead Georgia (No. 4 ESPN/USAToday; No. 3) to a 48-28 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday.
"The whole experience has not set in yet," he said. "I'll have to go home and watch ESPN."
Ware was the first freshman running back to start his first game at Georgia since 1943. Not even Herschel Walker could make that claim.
"People have compared me to Herschel Walker," Ware said. "I can't fill that man's shoes."
But he did set a much-needed tone for Georgia's running game, which went through all 14 games without producing a 100-yard rusher last season -- the first time that had happened in 31 years.
"We're glad to have that monkey off our back," coach Mark Richt said. "Danny ran beautifully."
Ware scored Georgia's first touchdown on a 10-yard run. He added a 3-yarder less than three minutes into the second half, sparking a 28-point third quarter that blew open a close game.
Georgia put its first-teamers back on the field after Georgia Southern scored a couple of quick TDs late in the game. With less than a minute to go, Ware finished off his big day with a 1-yard dive into the end zone, becoming the first Georgia player since Musa Smith in the 2001 opener to score three TDs in a game.
"I thought I was done," Ware said. "I was glad they put me back in. I told the line, 'Let's go out there and get it."
Ware was the first freshman tailback to make his Georgia debut as a starter since the NCAA allowed freshman to play on the varsity in 1973. Player shortages during World War II forced the Bulldogs to start an all-freshman backfield in 1943.
Another freshman back, Thomas Brown, made his mark right away with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Richt has certainly been impressed with Ware's durability. The running back enrolled at Georgia in time to take part in practices leading up to last season's Capital One Bowl -- and he hasn't missed a day yet because of injuries.
"He may not have gotten stronger as the game went along," Richt said, "but he was stronger than the guys around him. He was breaking more tackles as the game went along."
The Bulldogs also struck for a couple of long scores while improving to 3-0 overall against Georgia Southern. Tyson Browning had a 72-yard punt return and Reggie Brown caught a 43-yard pass from David Greene.
The Eagles, who have won six I-AA championships, kept things close in the first half with their option offense, which held the ball for more than 20 minutes.
Even so, Georgia went to the break with a 13-7 lead.
Andy Bailey's 21-yard field goal broke a 7-all tie with 2:40 left in the half. The freshman added a 31-yarder with 13 seconds to go after David Pollack forced a fumble by Southern quarterback Chaz Williams.
"I thought we showed a lot of heart," Eagles coach Mike Sewak said. "Georgia is a very deep team."
The Bulldogs broke it open in the third quarter. Taking the second-half kickoff, they quickly drove 65 yards in seven plays to go ahead 20-7. Greene hooked up withBrown on a 23-yard completion and Ware set up his second TD by rambling 18 yards to the 3.
After Georgia Southern went three-and-out, Browning took a punt at his own 28 and found a huge hole up the right side. Not even running full speed, he cruised along behind his blockers, made one cutback at the Eagles 40 and raced untouched for the touchdown, putting the Bulldogs up 27-7.
ThomasBrown's short run and ReggieBrown's long catch made it 41-14 at the end of the third quarter. On the latter score, Greene dropped the snap but picked it up in time to find his receiver open over the middle. After breaking one tackle,Brown took it all the way to the end zone.
Greene, who has chance to become the winningest quarterback in NCAA history this season, completed 9 of 14 passes for 161 yards.
Georgia Southern kept the game respectable even though top runner Jermaine Austin went out in the first half with a sprained ankle. Brandon Andrews took over, leading the Eagles with 83 yards on 20 carries.
The Eagles rushed for 294 yards.
But Williams passed for only 12 yards, completing three of 12 with an interception. Backup Trey Hunter did better, running for one TD and throwing for another score.
"We knew that no one was giving us a chance to win," safety James Young said. "We believed in ourselves, and we came out and played as hard as we could."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-16||3-8|
|4th Down Conversions||4-4||0-0|
|TD||4:32||DANNY WARE 10 YD RUN (ANDY BAILEY KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 68 yards.
|TD||10:03||BRANDON ANDREWS 1 YD RUN (JONATHAN DUDLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 19 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||2:40||ANDY BAILEY 21 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 49 yards.
|FG||0:13||ANDY BAILEY 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 7 yards.
|TD||12:05||DANNY WARE 3 YD RUN (ANDY BAILEY KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||10:49||TYSON BROWNING 72 YD PUNT RETURN (ANDY BAILEY KICK)||7||27|
|TD||4:44||LYNON JEFFERSON 22 YD PASS FROM TREY HUNTER (JONATHAN DUDLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||2:18||THOMAS BROWN 3 YD RUN (ANDY BAILEY KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||0:53||REGGIE BROWN 43 YD PASS FROM DAVID GREENE (ANDY BAILEY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||5:34||TREY HUNTER 2 YD RUN (JONATHAN DUDLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||3:27||TIM GEHRSITZ 25 YD RUN (JONATHAN DUDLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||0:52||DANNY WARE 1 YD RUN (ANDY BAILEY KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 69 yards.