Dawgs flex on 99-yard drive
Murray, Crowell help Georgia turn deep hole into deep gash at Ole Miss' psyche
OXFORD, Miss. -- Facing third down and with 98 yards worth of green in front of his offense, Mike Bobo called the smart play.
It helped that Isaiah Crowell was available to carry the ball.
Starting a couple yards deep in his own end zone, the star freshman broke a 29-yard run -- part of his 30-carry, 147-yard performance -- launching the Bulldogs on an eight-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that helped Georgia take command of Saturday's 27-13 win against Ole Miss.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray had been sacked on the play before, setting up third-and-9 from the Georgia 2. With Georgia's defense continually holding Ole Miss' offense in check, Bobo, the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator, knew the safe play was to call a draw and punt if necessary.
Getting the ball off the goal line was Bobo's first priority, but he knew the Rebels' defensive alignment might be vulnerable to the draw. Crowell proved him correct, turning the safe play into exactly the spark the Bulldogs needed to construct a comfortable lead.
"That was really our big thing, trying to get it past the 5 on that third-down call," Bobo said. "They played coverage, and we ran a draw, which would be a good call against what they did, and Isaiah did a nice job making the run."
Two plays after Crowell moved Georgia out of the shadow of its end zone, Murray hit freshman Malcolm Mitchell with a 69-yard bomb all the way to the Rebels' 4-yard line. In the span of three plays, the Bulldogs had moved 94 yards, setting up Orson Charles' 2-yard touchdown catch that put them ahead 17-0.
But it all truly started with a simple draw play out of the Georgia end zone.
"That's when momentum came," Crowell said. "A lot of SEC football games, it's a game of momentum. Whoever has the momentum, that's who does the best."
It was the longest drive in the SEC this season and Georgia's longest drive since going 99 yards for a touchdown against Central Michigan in 2008.
"In everybody's mind, we were like, 'We're going to go score. We're going to go 99 yards, and we're going to score.' In the end, we ended up doing that," said Charles, who finished with five catches for 59 yards. "From there, we knew we had the game, and we were going to keep putting points on the board if we just execute."
The Bulldogs struggled on offense from that point, scoring only three points in the second half, but Georgia's defense prevented the Rebels from cutting the lead to single digits for the rest of the game.
Once Charles scored to make it a three-score game, he said the Bulldogs knew the game was theirs.
"The defense was playing amazing, and they've been practicing all week like that," Charles said. "I knew when we scored, they weren't going to score on our defense, because we have a hard time scoring on our defense ourselves. It was one of those things that was definitely a momentum change, and I'm happy it was on our side."
David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.