ATHENS, Ga. -- Aaron Murray played only one half in Saturday's 63-16 homecoming win against New Mexico State, but Georgia's quarterback still managed to enjoy a career-best performance.
Murray completed 18 of 23 passes in the game's first 30 minutes and passed for five touchdowns. That matches the program record for passing touchdowns in a game, most recently accomplished by Joe Cox in a 2009 win against Arkansas.
Murray hit five different players -- Michael Bennett, Brandon Boykin, Chris Conley, Orson Charles and Aron White -- with touchdown passes in the second quarter as the Bulldogs built a 49-3 halftime lead. Murray fell one touchdown pass short of former Houston quarterback David Klingler's NCAA record for touchdown passes in a quarter set in 1991.
"We've been doing it all year -- spreading the ball out, getting guys involved," Murray said. "They got open and I hit them, and they made plays with the ball in their hands."
Backup quarterback Hutson Mason opened the second half under center, preventing Murray from claiming the school record for himself. But the redshirt sophomore said after the game that he had no desire to get greedy.
"I was happy we were up 49-3, and Hutson deserves to get in there," Murray said. "He went in there and did a great job. I'm happy for him and the rest of the guys who did a great job today."
Struggling senior Blair Walsh wasn't benched on Saturday, but he shared kicking duties with Brandon Bogotay for the first time.
Alternating kicks and kickoffs, Walsh hit five PATs and Bogotay hit four, while both players kicked off five times apiece, with each achieving one touchback.
Bogotay's initial PAT on Saturday marked his first point since hitting an extra point against Idaho State last season.
Because of a season-long slump where Walsh has hit 13 of 23 field-goal tries, Georgia coach Mark Richt said the two players competed during the week, and he liked what he saw from the duo against New Mexico State. He said the rotation might not have been a one-time occurrence.
"It got to the point where something needed to change, but I didn't want to change Blair because I think Blair's a heck of a ballplayer," Richt said. "I think it was good for him to compete all week. Those guys are out there competing, and I think that they both did a very good job. If it changed the mindset just a bit and ended up helping, that's a good thing."
Career day for Conley
True freshman receiver Conley gave a career-best effort of his own, catching five passes for 126 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter and a 46-yard bomb from Mason in the third.
Conley never had caught more than one pass in a game before last week's win against Florida, when he had three receptions for 38 yards.
"The quarterbacks showed some more confidence in the deep ball, and Aaron definitely showed more confidence in me and gave me the chance to go make plays," Conley said. "I didn't want to let him down, so I just had to go capitalize on those."
Senior tight end White picked a unique way to score his first career touchdown at Sanford Stadium.
He hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Murray in the back corner of the end zone with 6 seconds before halftime, then leaped over a xylophone the Redcoat Band had carried onto the field for the halftime show and landed in the privet hedges that surround the playing field.
"It's actually really painful. It's surprisingly painful," White said. "That bush is sharp, man. It scratched me up and caught my jersey and ripped my jersey all up when I was stuck down there. It was worth it, though. It was memorable. That was my first one in Sanford. Hopefully I can get another one."
Austin Long was on crutches earlier this week with his foot in a walking boot, and Georgia's coaches didn't expect him to play Saturday, but the offensive tackle made a surprise recovery by Thursday's practice that allowed him to dress out.
The oft-injured redshirt sophomore took the field for the first time as a Bulldog on the second possession of the third quarter and played most of the remainder of the game.
"I was standing on the sideline and I wasn't really nervous, but once I ran on the field, I kind of got a little nervous," Long admitted. "As soon as I started playing, I wasn't nervous anymore. After that first play, I was fine. It was a dream come true. It was awesome."
The Bulldogs subbed out their entire starting offensive line to start the second half, allowing Long, freshmen David Andrews, Hunter Long and Watts Dantzler, and walk-ons John Bodin and Hugh Williams to take over for the rest of the game.
Junior Branden Smith started at tailback and cornerback for the Bulldogs. Smith scored the Bulldogs' first touchdown on a 56-yard run in the first quarter and finished with two carries for 58 yards. He also made one tackle on defense. ... Shawn Williams led Georgia with seven tackles and recovered a fumble forced by John Jenkins in the first quarter. Jenkins made a career-high five tackles. ... Safety Bacarri Rambo intercepted a Matt Christian pass in the second quarter and returned it 51 yards to the NMSU 19-yard line, setting up an Orson Charles touchdown catch. Rambo has six interceptions this season, which is the most by a Georgia defensive back since Tim Wansley had six in 2000.
David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.