Not even the flashy return of A.J. Green stopped the downward spiral of what’s quickly becoming Georgia’s season to forget.
Colorado happily extended Georgia’s losing skid and gave embattled coach Dan Hawkins a vote of confidence with a 29-27 win against the Bulldogs on Saturday at Folsom Field.
Green looked impressive overall, but he didn’t cure everything that ails the Bulldogs.
Mistakes, poor execution and lackluster performances torpedoed Georgia’s effort yet again as the Bulldogs (1-4) lost their fourth straight.
What makes the losses harder to stomach for fans is that all four were winnable games, but multiple opportunities went by the wayside.
Colorado (3-1) was one of the Big 12′s bottom feeders last season and the Buffaloes had been crushed 52-7 by their only other FBS opponent this season – California. Georgia had a 10-point lead in the second half, but squandered every break and advantage it received.
Green showed why most NFL teams aspire to have him on their payroll.
The guy gets open and he catches the ball. His one-handed 39-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter topped Saturday’s highlight reels.
But Green’s night was more than just a spectacular moment. He caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 40-yard run.
His presence created mayhem in Colorado’s secondary as it often shifted coverages.
Georgia’s offense looked dangerous as long as Green was on the field and not in the locker room treating cramps.
Attention thrown his way opened opportunities for others. Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray threw for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Caleb King had Georgia’s best rushing game with an even 100 yards.
Georgia showed good resolve to rally from a 7-0 deficit by taking the lead before halftime, but the Bulldogs couldn’t close the deal.
In fact, Georgia threw away just about every chance it had. A second-quarter interception by Marcus Dowtin at the Colorado 38-yard line resulted in naught as Georgia needed six plays to advance the ball 13 yards.
Normally reliable Blair Walsh pushed a 41-yard field-goal attempt wide right as time expired and Georgia held a 17-14 lead going into halftime. Getting any points out of that possession would have come in handy at the end of the game.
But that wasn’t the only blown opportunity.
Georgia led 24-14 with 10:40 left in the third quarter after Marlon Brown caught a touchdown pass from Murray.
However, the Bulldogs promptly gave up a 65-yard run on Colorado’s next possession. The Buffaloes scored a touchdown, tacked on a two-point conversion and pulled within 24-22.
Colorado picked up a touchdown on its next possession to take the lead for good.
Caleb King’s fumble at the end of the game might get the bulk of the attention, but Georgia’s defense gave up some monster plays to put the Bulldogs in rally mode in the first place.
Georgia allowed 393 yards and 18 first downs, including 235 rushing yards.
But most damaging was its propensity to serve up yardage in bulk rates.
Colorado had five plays of at least 20 yards. Each of its four touchdown drives had a gain of at least 35 yards, including a 39-yard scramble by quarterback Tyler Hansen, a 35-yard pass from Hansen to Brian Lockridge and a 65-yard run by Rodney Stewart.
Georgia’s defense couldn’t create its own pit stops because three of those long-range plays came on third down. Colorado converted a third-and-13 in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard pass from Hansen to Stewart.
Georgia coach Mark Richt held a steady head after the loss and more or less repeated his post-game talking points from the previous three defeats.
“Losing is not good, but there are a lot of good things that come out of it as far as effort and attitude of the group,” Richt said. “There will be a lot of things that I can point to that the coaches will be proud of these guys for. But the bottom line in football is wins and losses, and right now we haven’t gotten one in a while.”
• Roger Clarkson is a general sports writer for the Banner-Herald. E-mail: email@example.com