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Georgia stomps Vandy
Thomas runs for first pair of TDs in career
Georgia's new mascot Uga VIII, left, is greeted by interim mascot Russ during a ceremony to introduce Uga VIII as the school's mascot before Saturday's game against Vanderbilt in Athens. - photo by John Bazemore

ATHENS — Georgia hit its stride. Vanderbilt hit bottom.

Carlton Thomas ran for the first two touchdowns of his career, Aaron Murray passed for two touchdowns and Georgia continued its midseason recovery by beating Vanderbilt 43-0 on Saturday.

Georgia (3-4 overall, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) took its second straight lopsided win after four straight losses. The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 41-14 last week.

"It looks like we're getting better," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "It looks like we're playing with a little more passion."
Georgia introduced its new mascot, Uga VIII, a 13-month-old white English bulldog, before the game.

Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-2) suffered its 15th loss in the last 16 games in the series and narrowly avoided its worst loss to Georgia.

Blair Walsh kicked two field goals for Georgia but missed from 31 yards in the fourth quarter to keep the Bulldogs from taking their largest margin of victory in the series. Georgia beat Vanderbilt 45-0 in 1976.

"We got whipped in every phase of the game — offense, defense, special teams," said Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell.
Commodores quarterback Larry Smith said, "it can't get any worse than today."

Smith completed 5 of 14 passes for 70 yards with an interception for Vanderbilt, which was held to eight first downs and 140 total yards in its worst defeat since a 48-0 loss to Tennessee on Nov. 22, 2003.

"We just didn't play the way we know we can play," said Vanderbilt offensive tackle Wesley Johnson. "This can't be what happens for the rest of the season."

Washaun Ealey led Georgia with 17 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. He had a career-long 58-yard run in the first quarter.

Caleb King, who normally shares carries with Ealey, served the first game of his two-game suspension following his arrest for failing to pay a speeding ticket.

Thomas, who was questionable with a hamstring injury until Thursday, had four carries for 40 yards. He had scoring runs of 15 and 9 yards.

A healthy Thomas allowed Richt to hold out tailback Ken Malcome after saying the freshman might play for the first time this season.

Murray, a freshman, completed 15 of 24 passes for a career-high 287 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He had scoring passes of 4 yards to Kris Durham and 48 yards to A.J. Green.

"This is what we felt like we could do all season," Murray said.

Durham had four catches for 112 yards.

Georgia is trying to recover from four straight losses to South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado.

"It's a long season," Murray said. "You can't lose four games and think the season is over.

"There's still plenty of time to have what most teams would consider a good season."

Murray has 12 TD passes and only three interceptions this season.

Murray and other starters were pulled late in the third quarter. Hutson Mason took over at quarterback and was 4-for-4 passing for 28 yards.

Zac Stacy led the Commodores with nine carries for 39 yards. Warren Norman had seven carries for 23 yards.

Jared Funk replaced Smith for the fourth quarter.

Georgia appeared unsettled when it used all its timeouts for the first half in the first six minutes of the game.

Richt said the defense needed a timeout because there were not enough players on the field. He said the offense had the wrong players for a called play and had to regroup.

Fans booed when Richt sent his field goal team onto the field on fourth and 1 at the Vanderbilt 16 on Georgia's opening drive. Richt used his last timeout of the half to reconsider when he saw Georgia needed less than a full yard. Murray ran for the first down but Georgia eventually settled for a 32-yard field goal by Walsh.

Georgia had two apparent touchdowns overturned on reviews.

After an apparent completed pass from Smith to Mason Johnston and fumble by Johnston, linebacker Christian Robinson picked up the ball and ran about 40 yards into the end zone. Officials ruled a touchdown but the play was ruled an incomplete pass on review.

Late in the first quarter, Vanderbilt's Joey Bailey snapped the ball past Smith into the end zone. Georgia's Akeem Dent fell on the ball at the back of the end zone. The officials' touchdown call was changed to a safety on the review.

Thomas had a 15-yard touchdown run, Durham caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Murray and Walsh added a 25-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in the half for a 22-0 lead.

Thomas added a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Sanders Cummings intercepted a pass by Smith with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter to set up Georgia's last touchdown, a 1-yard dive by Ealey.

Umpire Johnny Hibbett was helped off the field with 7:45 remaining in the third quarter with an injured left ankle. Line judge Terry Walters took over for Hibbett.

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