12:00 PM ET, October 1, 2011
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
After teams' tense pregame exchange, Aaron Murray leads strong start for Georgia
Georgia (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) led 21-3 at halftime before surviving a listless second half for its third straight win.
Chris Relf passed for 157 yards and ran for 31 yards but couldn't lead a touchdown drive, leaving Mississippi State (2-3, 0-3) still looking for its first SEC win.
"This was a great win for us," Georgia junior cornerback Sanders Commings said. "Our third win in a row and second in the SEC. It feels awesome."
The teams had to be separated at midfield at the end of pregame warmups. Georgia players accused the Mississippi State players of jumping on the big "G" logo that stretches almost 20 yards at midfield.
"They came jumping on the 'G' and you just don't do that," linebacker Christian Robinson said. "The locker room was electric after that happened. There were chairs being thrown. I've just never seen this locker room like that. You just don't do that in our house. You don't jump on somebody's symbol."
An official was knocked down as he tried to escort the Mississippi State players off the field, but the pregame confrontation was mostly contained.
"Somehow our players thought Mississippi State was disrespecting our 'G', " Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "From what the officials told me, their players didn't have any intent of doing that."
Georgia took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and led 21-3 at halftime.
Murray had an uneven performance. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns but had three interceptions to match his total for the first four games
Crowell, the freshman tailback, did not score but topped 100 yards for the third time in three SEC games. One week after setting career highs with 30 carries for 147 yards in Georgia's 27-13 win at Mississippi, Crowell again was the most consistent offensive threat for Georgia.
Mississippi State was held to a 42-yard field goal by Derek Depasquale before finally reaching the end zone when Darius Slay returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Relf completed 19 of 31 passes for 157 yards and two interceptions. Vick Ballard was held to 23 yards rushing on eight carries.
"The defense was the story of the day," Richt said. "(State) really couldn't get anything going. They hit some quick screens early, but we knew they could not make a living doing that. Stopping the quarterback and their backs was so important. And the balls that were thrown across the line, we defended those well. If we caught every ball we had our hands on, it would have been crazy."
Big plays on special teams set up Georgia's first two touchdowns.
Brandon Boykin's 30-yard punt return set up Georgia's first possession at the Mississippi State 33. Three plays later, Murray found Orson Charles for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
A shanked 11-yard punt by Baker Swedenberg gave Georgia the ball at Mississippi State's 22 later in the opening quarter. Murray's 6-yard pass to Malcolm Mitchell gave Georgia a 14-3 lead.
Murray's second interception, by linebacker Cameron Lawrence, gave Mississippi State the ball at the Georgia 28 with 3:34 remaining in the half. Georgia's defense answered when Relf's pass bounced off receiver Chris Smith's hands and was intercepted by Commings.
Georgia took the ball at its 19 and, with Crowell doing most of the work, moved 81 yards on eight plays. The drive ended with Carlton Thomas' 7-yard scoring run.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen alternated quarterbacks in the third quarter. Dylan Favre, the nephew of former longtime NFL quarterback Brett Favre, took over for Relf for the first series of the second half before Relf returned the following possession. The two then shared Mississippi's third possession.
Favre threw two passes, both incomplete.
"We were able to play some younger players and get them some experience," Mullen said. "I wanted to keep some momentum going and give Chris a break, so I put in Dylan Favre. He now has some playing time in case we ever need to go to him again later this season."
At the end of the game, Georgia players quickly rushed to midfield, briefly bouncing up and down on the logo before exchanging handshakes with the Mississippi State players.
Georgia backup running back Ken Malcome, who told Richt on Wednesday he planned to transfer but was accepted back on the team on Thursday, did not play.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-15||6-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||0-1|
|TD||11:53||Orson Charles 21 Yd Pass From Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh Kick)||0||7|
|FG||07:53||Derek DePasquale 42 Yd||3||7|
|TD||01:58||Malcolm Mitchell 6 Yd Pass From Aaron Murray (Blair Walsh Kick)||3||14|
|TD||01:03||Carlton Thomas 7 Yd Run (Blair Walsh Kick)||3||21|
|FG||02:29||Blair Walsh 28 Yd||3||24|
|TD||08:31||Darius Slay 72 Yd Interception Return (Derek Depasquale Kick)||10||24|