The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe took his helmet off and knelt on the field as if in prayer.
The Hawaii receiver he had just drilled appeared to be out cold.
Warriors wideout Jason Rivers eventually sat up. He even got back into the Sugar Bowl. But there wasn’t much Rivers or the rest of his teammates on Hawaii’s normally high-flying offense could do against the Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
Indeed, Georgia’s decision to wear a more intimidating black jersey instead of its traditional red seemed most appropriate when the Bulldogs’ defense was on the field. They swarmed to the ball like merciless marauders, turning Hawaii’s once joyous first bid to the Sugar Bowl into a nightmare. Heisman Trophy finalist Colt Brennan was sacked more times in the first half (five) than in any game this season. Defensive end Marcus Howard jarred the ball from Brennan’s grasp twice in the first three quarters, the second hit leaving Brennan flat on his back while Howard then fell on the loose ball in the end zone for fourth touchdown in a 41-10 romp. Georgia’s eighth sack literally brought Brennan to his knees, where he remained for about 10 seconds, his head bowed against the turf, before trainers helped him up and led him off the field with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.He was replaced by Tyler Graunke who threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen.
Eight sacks were the most the Bulldogs had ever racked up in a bowl, and Brennan could only wish those were the only plays on which he took a heavy hit.
The Bulldogs were clearly gunning for him. Brennan was leveled after a last-second option pitch and on several other throws that he narrowly released before his protection collapsed.
The Dawgs’ defensive backs had a pretty good day, too.
Prince Miller intercepted a pass in the first half. Asher Allen and Ellerbe each picked one off in the second.
When taken in the context of its 12-0 regular season, the numbers Hawaii managed to put up against Georgia were downright dismal. Coming into their Bowl Championship Series debut, Hawaii had averaged 529.2 yards and 45 points per game. That was against a schedule made up primarily of their Western Athletic Conference rivals.
Against Southeastern Conference powerhouse Georgia, Hawaii finished with 306 total yards and turned the ball over six times.It was the first time Brennan had been held without a TD pass at Hawaii when he played more than a few plays.
For most of the game, it seemed the only completions Georgia permitted were short passes underneath in long-yardage situations. Then, it was up to Hawaii’s receivers to make substantial gains after the catch. They couldn’t.
As Georgia’s defenders hopped up in triumph from one ferocious tackle after another, the Georgia band immersed the Louisiana Superdome in a fitting tune: "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones.