Nov. 12, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. -- Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes, Isaiah Crowell rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown and Carlton Thomas had 127 rushing yards as No. 14 Georgia clinched a share of the SEC's Eastern Division title with a 45-7 victory over No. 24 Auburn in Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Sophomore Michael Dyer eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season with a 17-yard gain on the first play of the second half to become just the fourth Tiger to record consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Dyer, who has 1,037 rushing yards this year, ran for an Auburn freshman-record 1,093 yards last season. The Little Rock, Ark., native joins James Brooks (1978-79), Stephen Davis (1994-95) and Carnell Williams (2003-04) in the exclusive club.
Georgia (8-2, 6-1 SEC) took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game as Murray threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King on third down, the fourth such conversion on the 70-yard drive that included a pivotal 44-yard completion to Malcolm Mitchell to the Auburn 11 on a 3rd and 15..
Auburn (6-4, 4-3 SEC) came right back as Clint Moseley tossed an option reverse to freshman wide receiver C.J. Uzomah, who completed his first career pass, a 4-yard touchdown to Philip Lutzenkirchen with 6:13 left in the opening quarter. The play was set up by Moseley's 45-yard play action pass to Emory Blake down to the Bulldog 9. The Tigers drove 76 yards on eight plays in 2:47. It was all Georgia after that as the Bulldogs scored 38 straight points to end the game.
"There is no secret why we lost," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "Offensively, we couldn't protect the quarterback and run the ball, and we couldn't sustain any drives at all. Defensively, we couldn't stop the passing game and couldn't stop the run. "Five sacks are not at all acceptable. It was just an all-around complete team loss. Not one phase of our team played well ... offense, defense and special teams. We have to go back to work and do the things to be a better football team. We are going to go work and start to work again."
Georgia continued the first quarter shootout on Murray's second touchdown pass, a 27-yard beauty to a diving Michael Bennett on tight coverage by Neiko Thorpe to put the Bulldogs up 14-7 with 3:02 on the clock.
Eltoro Freeman, who had two fumble recoveries and one forced, recovered his first Bulldog fumble at the Auburn 45 less than two minutes into the second quarter. On the next play, Onterio McCalebb mishandled a toss on a reverse from Dyer and Georgia recovered at the Auburn 40. That led to Murray finding fullback Bruce Figgins out of the backfield for a 15-yard touchdown completion, giving Georgia a 21-7 lead with 10:36 left in the half.
On Auburn's next possession, Baccari Rambo picked off Moseley and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown as Georgia went ahead 28-7 after back-to-back turnovers led to 14 Bulldog points in 55 seconds.
Georgia increased its lead to 35-7 as Murray and Mitchell teamed up for the second time, this time on 25 yards for a touchdown. The score came on another third down conversion by Georgia, its seventh in seven tries to open the game.
The Bulldogs scored the only points of the third quarter as Brandon Bogotay kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 38-7 lead with 7:32 left in the period. Crowell closed out the scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run with 5:59 remaining for a 45-7 Georgia lead. Georgia outgained Auburn 528 to 195 yards in total offense while having a time of possession advantage of 40:55 to 19:05. The Bulldogs limited the Tigers to only 51 yards rushing on 25 attempts while gaining 304 yards on 56 carries. Georgia was 12-of-15 in third down conversions to Auburn's 3-of-11.
Emory Blake had six receptions for 101 yards for Auburn while Moseley completed 11-of-22 passes for 140 yards. Dyer finished with 48 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Corey Lemonier forced two fumbles in the first half, becoming the first Auburn player to accomplish the feat since Quentin Groves in 2006 at Alabama while Freeman's two fumble recoveries were the first for a Tiger since Sen'Derrick Marks did it in that same game.
Auburn finished its road portion of the 2011 schedule with a 1-4 record with all five games coming against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 15, including No. 1 LSU, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Clemson, No. 14 Georgia, No. 15 South Carolina.