OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- All the focus this week has been on who
will start at quarterback for No. 10 Georgia.
As it turns out, the equally difficult choice of a starting
tailback made the difference as the Bulldogs came from behind for
the second straight week Saturday to beat Mississippi 14-9. Kregg Lumpkin ran for 101 yards and Matthew Stafford directed two
second-half touchdown drives as Georgia improved to 21-2 on the
road in five years under coach Mark Richt.
"I was definitely proud of him," Richt said of Lumpkin after
his first 100-yard game.
Neither Stafford nor starter Joe Cox, both freshmen, had much of
an impact on the Rebels. But good field position and a strong
second-half performance by Lumpkin helped the Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0
Southeastern Conference) remain undefeated as they prepare to face
No. 15 Tennessee next week in Athens.
Junior quarterback Joe Tereshinski returns to the mix this week
after recovering from a sprained, giving Richt another hard
decision to make.
"Everybody's expecting at least 25 or 30 a game," Stafford
said after completing 7 of 18 passes for 92 yards. "It's not
happening, but I know and the team knows that we're giving it all
A week after Cox replaced Stafford and capped two second-half
touchdown drives with scoring passes in a 14-13 victory over
Colorado, Lumpkin sparked the Georgia rally. He rushed for 81 yards
in the second half and fullback Brannan Southerland had two 1-yard
touchdowns to secure the win. Stafford had key plays on each drive
after taking the team over for good in the second half.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Rebels (1-4, 0-2), who
are off to their worst start since 1987 when they began 1-5. Ole
Miss has lost eight of its last nine.
Cox and Stafford combined to complete 5 of 15 passes for 30
yards in the first half. The offense's best field position was the
Ole Miss 47 and the Bulldogs managed just 66 yards of total
Richt trotted out what is becoming a familiar refrain at
halftime and the Bulldogs responded. Thomas Brown opened the second
half with a 46-yard kickoff return that gave Georgia the ball at
its 46 and Lumpkin went to work.
The junior tailback rushed for 46 yards on five carries on the
opening drive, including a 23-yarder on fourth-and-inches. And
Stafford kept the drive alive with an 8-yard scramble on third down
to set up Southerland's first 1-yard TD run with 10:58 left in the
Two series later, the Bulldogs took over at the 50 after a short
punt and Lumpkin got the team rolling with a 16-yard run on first
down. Two plays later, Stafford hit Demiko Goodman with a 33-yard
pass to Ole Miss' 2 and Southerland punched it in on two straight
1-yard dive plays.
Stafford played the entire second half. He didn't turn the ball
over, but he struggled as much as Cox did. Neither freshman played
well enough to remove the questions that surround the Bulldogs'
"I don't think it's one person," Southerland said. "I don't
think it's the offense. I don't think it's the defense. It's as a
team. We've just got to put a little more pressure on the team."
Ole Miss went up 3-0 in the first half after Cassius Vaughn
blocked a punt deep in Georgia territory. But the Rebels had little
offense in the game beyond BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 135 rushing
yards, including 80 on 14 carries in the first half.
McCluster nearly fumbled the ball out of the end zone before
crossing the goal line, but the score was upheld on review and the
Rebels failed on a two-point conversion.
Georgia's Paul Oliver ended a late drive by Ole Miss with an
interception to seal the win.
Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron said he felt like the once passive
Rebels were a few play away from an upset.
"I think my team outplayed Georgia and I think my coaching
staff did a great job," Orgeron said. "There is no second place,
I understand that. But from where our team is, I'm really proud of
the way we practiced and I'm really proud of the way we played
tonight. I think it's something we need to build on."