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Georgia loses out on SEC title game, but beats Tech again

POSTED: November 29, 2007 5:04 a.m.
ATLANTA — Georgia’s football fans sent a not-so-subtle message to the Bowl Championship Series committee with a sprinkling of oranges thrown on the field Saturday night in Atlanta: the Bulldogs deserve a shot at a BCS bowl after their 31-17 win over Georgia Tech (7-5) at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

And the Bulldogs (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will probably get that opportunity.

Georgia is currently ranked No. 7 in the BCS polls, and with the outcome of other games will almost certainly qualify for one of the four at large bids into a BCS bowl game.

The most likely scenario for Georgia’s bowl fate is either a berth in the Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl.

"I think we deserve to be in a BCS bowl," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I’m not going to start politicking for one bowl game over another, because I think all the BCS games are great."

"I don’t care which game we play in," Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford said when asked about a preference with the BCS. "Just playing in a BCS game sounds great to me."

Georgia is in the hunt for the BCS after piecing together a six-game winning streak to round out the regular season. The Bulldogs’ last loss came at the hands of Tennessee in Knoxville.

In the end, that loss to Tennessee (9-3, 6-2) cost Georgia a shot at the SEC championship game. The Volunteers locked up the SEC East divisional title with a 52-50 four overtime win over Kentucky on Saturday.

It was a tease for Richt to hear in the third quarter that Tennessee lost, only to find out later that the Volunteers actually won.

"Maybe that did put a little damper on the win today," Richt said. "But it’s been a wonderful season."

And the Bulldogs have plenty to be grateful for. For starters, Georgia rounded out the regular season with wins against Auburn, Florida and Georgia Tech all in the same season for the first time since 1982.

Georgia also secured its fifth 10-win season under Richt.

"Any BCS bowl game for us would be great," Georgia senior receiver Sean Bailey said. "I think our team has definitely proven ourselves worthy."

Bailey was instrumental in Georgia’s win with catches of 22 and 55 on a Bulldogs’ scoring drive late in the third quarter. Brannon Southerland scored on the next play on a run from the 3.

With the win, Georgia also extended its winning streak over the Yellow Jackets to seven games. That’s certainly a point of pride for Georgia’s senior class to finish their college careers undefeated against the in-state rivals.

"It feels great to finish winning every season against Georgia Tech," Bulldogs senior running back Thomas Brown said. "We know how much they despise us, and we don’t care for them too much either."

Brown finished with a game-high 139 rushing yards and scored on a touchdown run of 32 yards with 11:07 left to play for the game’s final score. He was effective all-night with toss sweeps to the right, ripping off a 32-yard gain on a similar play in the first quarter.

Stafford added a touchdown run of 31 on a fake handoff in the second quarter with 9:26 left to play in the first half. He finished the game 14 of 29 passing for 214 yards, and was only sacked once on the evening.

Georgia freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno was held to 45 yards, his first time not to reach 100-yards in the last seven games.

"I thought we gave a great effort tonight," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said, who is still winless against Georgia. "We just didn’t play well enough against a very good Georgia team."

For much of the game, Georgia Tech played better. Tashard Choice, a senior, had another great game running the ball for the Yellow Jackets with 25 carries for 134 yards. He scored on a 12-yard run late in the second quarter that gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-3 lead.

It marked Choice’s eighth 100-yard plus game this season, and 18th on his career.

"I think he’s going to be a good back on the next level in the NFL," Richt said.

Georgia Tech found the end zone again late in the second quarter when tight end Colin Peek scored on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Taylor Bennett. It gave Georgia Tech the lead 14-10.

Bennett finished the game 9-for-27 passing for 137 yards. Georgia’s C.J. Byrd and Reshad Jones both had interceptions on Bennett passes.

Junior linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and senior defensive back Kelin Johnson each finished with eight tackles for the Georgia defense. Geno Atkins also had a big night on defense for the Bulldogs with two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

"We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight today," Johnson said. "It’s very emotional for me to win my final game against Georgia Tech."

Georgia also had some lucky bounces go its way to help secure the win. The Bulldogs recovered a muffed punt in the end zone without any harm, and also two touchbacks in the end zone on mishandled plays. Those plays could have easily turned into points for the Yellow Jackets without some heads-up play by the Bulldogs.

"That’s three plays that could have been a catastrophe, and they all went our way today," Richt said.

With the loss, Georgia Tech’s probable bowl berth will either be the Emerald Bowl, Meineke Bowl or Music City Bowl.



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