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Moreno leads Georgia to dominant win
Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (58) runs ahead of safety CJ Byrd (5) and Central Michigan running back Ontario Sneed, left, as he returns an interception 76 yards for a touchdown Saturday in Athens. Georgia won 56-17. - photo by JOHN AMIS

ATHENS — Knowshon Moreno would have been a hit at the Bird's Nest.

He sure looked like an Olympic hurdler between the hedges.

Georgia's dynamic sophomore rushed for 168 yards and tied his career high with three touchdowns as the No. 2 Bulldogs responded to a ratings snub by pounding Central Michigan 56-17 on Saturday.

But the play that had everyone talking didn't result in a touchdown.

Late in the third quarter, Moreno got loose in the Chippewas' secondary. Vince Agnew came in low, looking to take him down at the knees, but the Georgia back simply leaped over the would-be tackler and kept on going for a 29-yard gain.

"That was crazy," teammate Asher Allen said. "He's done it in practice before. I think he's been keeping that in his back pocket."

Moreno sat out his first season at Georgia, a decision coach Mark Richt clearly regrets.

"He's a special kid," Richt said. "We saw him do it in practice, and I redshirted him anyway. That wasn't real smart on my part. I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good."

He wasn't the only standout wearing red.

Matthew Stafford completed 18-of-28 for 213 yards, hooking up with Mohamed Massaquoi on a pair of touchdown passes. Massive defensive end Demarcus Dobbs rumbled for an improbable 78-yard score after picking off a deflected pass.

The Bulldogs passed for 289 yards and rushed for 263 — the sort of balance that should serve them well in much tougher games to come. Georgia (2-0) has a brutal schedule the rest of the way, beginning with back-to-back road games at South Carolina and Arizona State.

"You're always looking for the ability to do things equally well," Richt said. "The defense can take one thing away from you, but if you can do both you've got a chance."

The players insisted they weren't trying to send a message, but it sure looked that way. Georgia started the year No. 1 and opened with a 24-point win over Georgia Southern that really wasn't that close.

But the voters were more impressed with Southern California's 52-7 rout at Virginia, so they pushed the Trojans ahead of the Bulldogs.

Unfazed by the snub, Georgia raced to a 28-0 lead over the Chippewas just before halftime, and stymied any hopes of a comeback with two big scoring plays early in the third quarter.

"The polls were probably the last thing on guys minds," safety C.J. Byrd said. "We just wanted to go out and get a win, no matter how we got it."

After Central Michigan (1-1) closed to 28-14 on Dan LeFevour's second TD pass, Moreno put it away. The sophomore took the pitch on a sweep around right end, burst upfield when he spotted a hole, stiff-armed defensive back Eric Fraser and crashed off the pylon for a 52-yard score.

Moreno wasn't done, either. He capped a 99-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown, the last of his 18 carries and equaling his three-score performances against Florida and Troy during a brilliant redshirt freshman season. He's off and running again with the seventh 100-yard game of his career.

As for the leap over Agnew, he simply shrugged his shoulders.

"All that stuff is really instinct," Moreno said. "Instinct takes over and you're just trying to make a play."

Stafford threw a 54-yard scoring pass to Massaquoi, who finished with five catches for 79 yards. The longest play of all, though, came from a most unlikely player.

With Central Michigan trailing 21-0 but threatening late in the first half, LeFevour attempted a short pass over the middle.

Georgia's Prince Miller stepped in to break it up, the ball popped up and Dobbs cradled it at the 22. The 282-pound sophomore took off the other way and didn't stop running until he rolled into the end zone with the first TD of his career.

"When I caught it, I saw nothing but green. When I got to the 50, I said, 'I've got to score,"' Dobbs said, breaking into a smile. "When I was laying down in the end zone, the hardest part was getting back up."

LeFevour, who put up similar pass-rush numbers a year ago to Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, wasn't nearly as effective outside the Mid-American Conference. He was 23-of-43 for 248 yards, but ran just four times for 20 yards.

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